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AI generated music to improve focus, relaxation and sleep (brain.fm)
744 points by jasbrainfm on Feb 21, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 301 comments

I still can't find anything better to program to than Nujabes. I'm going to give this a genuine shot, but Jun Seba really left his mark on me for life. I find myself listening to his albums and songs at least twice a day.

I think it's because of his repetitive beats, smooth strings and soft instrumentation. There's a reason there are 10 hour 'homework' edits on youtube for almost all of his songs.

Counting Stars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-tTmSY4m4M

Voice of Autum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvcQWJaaQDw

Arurian Dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6E9WMM0vko

While we are at it, the following is a selection of musicians whose work for me is both sedative and promotes focus (an oxymoron?). Ambient music usually garners a few sniggers, "this is what they play in spas" "whale music" etc, however in my experience can be an incredibly rewarding and effective method of relaxation and enjoyment.

Gas (Wolfgang Voigt) - Pop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s--IkNqI9og

Brian Eno - Discreet Music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE6nQ0lkLdY

Willits + Sakamoto - Reticent Reminiscence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdJdDwi1RS4&list=RDdskvPFt7w...

Aphex Twin - Stone in Focus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG16BTj5qT4

Bvdub - A Moment's Peace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exr3IAMaLPM

cv313 - Beyond The Clouds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqrRIDd5pSk

If you enjoy this type of music I thoroughly recommend the Headphone Commute blog. Apologies if a bit off topic.

Great list! Listening to "Gas", I thought you might also like

Fennesz - Venice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWAghDS6s4Q&list=PLKtI6DyKnY...

And while we're at it, just a few of my favorites:

Greg Haines - Slumber Tides: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmMDkZhl_R4

Nest - Retold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r69TiaIE4uo&list=PLaAArUShcY...

Murcof - (Ulysses, Martes, Remembranza - all great): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMPaSdC1ncw&list=PLhoTtA1a63...

Iso 68 - Zwei Engel Korrigiert : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NvkPmMHGBI

Edit: And thank you for the Headphone Commute link - it looks like a great source!

Best list I found in this thread yet. Am I the only one that likes to work to (mostly) instrumental sludge metal and post-rock?

ISIS — Celestial (2000) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8XN-3YZL5Y

I'm glad you like it :). I think ambience and soundscapes should still have interesting musical elements. If it only works as background noise, then I get bored by it.

I've also listened to Isis quite a lot, mostly "Oceanic", which is great. There is a pretty good remix album of "Oceanic" that opens with a remix by Fennesz.

Let me just throw a few more out there:

Antenne (two albums, just called #1 and #2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xel8T2A_pKk

Jóhann Jóhannsson - Englabörn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StuK0Bxoe2g&list=PL0dYx2N3BT...

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble - Here Be Dragons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyORieDhpkg

Kreng - Grimoire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU12fCP5AqY

La Grande Bellezza - Original Sound Track (sans disco tracks): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO8DqDWBzLI&list=PLf8QJjyzKL...

That's probably one of my key focus bands... though I'd probably list:

ISIS — Oceanic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2C8Z1Keluk

ISIS — Panopticon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA2AJIiw0p8

ISIS — In The Absence of Truth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atCKkDusJkc

The latter being a more accessible, earthlier sound (with no growling); yet the former two being the greater works.

Additionally, some classic post-rock masterpieces by GY!BE:

Godspeed You! Black Emperor — F# A# ∞ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wy4IsC5eb7o

Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZwQeZh6rP0

As a track is named, the former is bleak, uncertain, beautiful; both melancholic and uplifting with despairing wails and wavering cries of tears and joy. The second is the more known GY!BE album, which is just as good.

Nowadays, I just listen to whatever strikes my mood (I can tune most stuff out), but the ones I listed above were particularly good for focusing during essay writing.

I work to much of the same type of music, although I tend to group instrumental post-rock/post-punk (e.g. isis, pelican, russian circles, mono) with some electronic (e.g. ratatat) and small amounts of punk (tragedy/hhig, neurosis). Compared to what I usually listen to, the brain.fm focus channel didn't do anything for me.

Then we're two at least. :)

This sounds amazing, brilliant recommendation!

If anyone is into similar stuff I recommend Meshuggah - Catch Thirty Three -> it keeps me programming for hours at a time.


Some of my favorites:

Sakamoto Ryuichi / Alvo noto


William Basinski - Disintegration Loop series


Ben Frost - by the throat


Keith Fullerton Whitman - Playthroughs


Great list.

Stars of the Lid makes some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. It's ambient, made with strings and heavily processed guitar. The songs develop into these breathing like rhythms that just push some sort of button in me.

I can listen to it while working, or just on its own really loud to make the details come out.

Stars Of The Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et_lDyRymrw

The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaSi7Gut7xM

Gas and SOTL are my two favorite ambient artists.

Oh, these are fantastic... spent the last hour sampling them. Thanks for the Headphone Commute tip!

While we're listing things, and on a quite different note (much more "pop" - perhaps too distracting given the context of this post), I'd add the Fez OST (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYL-5N08JtA)... it's like chiptune Vangelis, and lovely for working and/or on a plane.

(also, Vangelis).

Gas is one of my favorite artists of all time. While I think Pop is a fantastic album, his best is Zauberberg.


This album breathes warmth into my soul. So hauntingly beautiful that I think about these soundscapes on a daily basis.

> Gas is one of my favorite artists of all time. While I think Pop is a fantastic album, his best is Zauberberg.

Perhaps under that alias. His minimal acid techno is also unparalleled.

Mike Ink - Playtex (Dadajack): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O30AGIUofRw

Mike Ink & Andreas Dorau - Das Telefon Sagt Acid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPFZ-JxQdtc

(He (Wolfgang Voigt) goes by Mike Ink, Gas, M:I:5, Studio 1, Wassermann, et al.)

I am totally digging your style

If you're a fan of such relaxing, ambient fare, I would strongly recommend you check out the fantastic compilation release, 'I Am the Center' [1]. It's got some fantastic selections, including an Eno piece, spanning 1950 - 1990.

[1] http://lightintheattic.net/releases/943-i-am-the-center-priv...

Cannot stop listening to that Gas album. Also Ryuichi Sakamoto has a golden touch. See Loscil, Lawrence English, Nest for more of this kind of music

Need to mention the original: The KLF - Chill Out.

My go to source is http://www.buzzoutroom.com/chillout/ been around for years and always introduces me to new artists, great playlist.

Some of my favorite tracks to code to:

Solar Fields - Sol https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNiD9M59FQE

Solar Fields - Discovering https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoYkxKWNzoo

Jerome Isma ae - Underwater Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TINBQPpVi0

Bedroom Lullaby - Kisses In the Rain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOZGKjLoo64

Royksopp - Royksopp Forever https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM_txL43iFM

Shpongle - Around the World in a Tea Daze https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHlidfF7nK8

Hol Baumann - Benares (Varanaci Edit) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAKATOLXFOw

H.U.V.A. Network - Something Heavens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxI7x5G4nJk

Delerium - Tectonic Shift https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JStpiAOLLKQ

Delerium - Terra Firma https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKUxE8UE7S0

Angel Tears - Ishka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmwiYy1caxA

Tempted by Collide (Conjure One Mix) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8llGPB8sAM

Trafik - Hard to Resist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DmSeClpuAM

Joey Fehrenbach - Behold https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzZckyU9ylw

Rob Dougan - Nothing At All (instrumental) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxofkW5iPpI

Jens Gad - Glass Palace https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF4H0n-dMyg

Sounds like you have similar taste to me. Do you have a spotify playlist? (I posted mine already so ctrl-f for my screen name) .

I don't use spotify. But you're right, your playlist has a lot in common of what I like.

I usually use http://www.jango.com which allows me to create my own radio station by specifying a few artist names, and it will play tracks similar in taste to those artists. I know there are other sites like that, but I'm not sure if spotify has a similar feature. The thing is I don't like playing a fixed playlist over and over, I prefer things being a bit more random, although following the same taste.

Let me add a few more for anyone interested:

- Harold Budd - Jane 1-11 / Jane 12-21 / Avalon Sutra (I really think Jane 1-11 is the gold standard for ambient music.)

- Porya Hatami - The Garden: https://dronarivm.bandcamp.com/album/the-garden

- Hotel Neon - Hotel Neon: https://hotelneon.bandcamp.com/

- Pausal - Sky Margin: https://ownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sky-margin

- Jared Smith - Fjall: https://ownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/fjall

- Gigi Masin - Talk To The Sea: https://music-from-memory.bandcamp.com/album/talk-to-the-sea

- Gigi Masin - Wind: https://music-from-memory.bandcamp.com/album/wind-3

- Gaussian Curve - Clouds: https://music-from-memory.bandcamp.com/album/clouds

- Takeshi Nishimoto - Lavandula: http://www.sonicpieces.com/sonicpieces018.html

- Bing & Ruth - Tomorrow Was The Golden Age: https://bingruth.bandcamp.com/album/tomorrow-was-the-golden-...

- Nuojuva - Valot Kaukaa: http://www.preservation.com.au/product/nuojuva-valot-kaukaa

- Imprints - Data Trails: https://sereinlabel.bandcamp.com/album/data-trails


In case anyone is interested in this kind of music, there's a very related Spotify Playlist I maintain and very carefully curate: https://open.spotify.com/user/michaelfeihstel/playlist/10IcC...

I have Erothyme on repeat for most of my work: https://erothyme.bandcamp.com/album/circadia

I love Nujabes too. I also highly recommend

Boards of Canada: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0fSIHcxJhECMV53Llj23...

Checkout "Christ." as well. 3rd early BoC member, he's sort of struggling but his music is amazing. He's one of the only artists to ever get an encore from John Peel.

He's reissuing one of his best albums on vinyl and is only 64 preorders away from fulfilling the goal - https://www.diggersfactory.com/project/203/christ-curio-volu...

1) Christ. - Pylonesque - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXipXsYg1_U

2) Christ. - Glenbrook - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yIicModMLw

3) Christ. - Perlandine Friday - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcaNsuqOzwY

His music got me through some times. Especially 2 and 3.

I agree, definitely worth checking out. Excellent musician.

I find the following tracks are great to code to as well:



(The album the second one is on, overall, is on quite regular office rotation here. Even when it's noisy, it's quite heavily beat driven which at least personally keeps me in the zone.)

Man I'll relay the message, he'll be super happy.

Thank you much for pointing me towards Christ. I'm listening to the John Peel session past couple of days, it's perfect!

> Boards of Canada...

I can't work to Boards, but...



There's so many good tracks on that album that it's hard to pick out any specifics as being better than the others. But one of my favourites would be Telephasic Workshop:


Man, completely agree. I fell in love with his work years ago and will never stop listening.

Not to compare these, because they're not even the same genre when you get down to it, but while poking around on Google Play Music the other day I found a series of tribute albums to Nujabes by Soul Jazz Collective:

Spring: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Soul_Jazz_Collecti...

Summer: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Soul_Jazz_Collecti...

Fall: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Soul_Jazz_Collecti...

Winter: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Soul_Jazz_Collecti...

Thought it was very sweet. And they're not bad for when you're just relaxing around the house

Just finished watching Samurai Champloo, where I first learned about Nujabes. I was saddened when I discovered the artist died in 2010. Great music! RIP

I literally broke down and cried my freshman year of college when I heard the news. I was a massive fan of his at the time and I really was devastated. I binged on his music for a couple days and eventually was at peace with it all; its touching to me that his music can have that effect. RIP Jun.

Rest in Beats

So much inspiration in this thread. I mentioned this further down the page, but it's a hobby of mine to ask what music people work to.

This is a goldmine for me.

Thanks a lot for posting, and for trying it out. Would love to hear your feedback, or anyone else's from this thread. Email me any time. Just my first name and brain.fm.

Next week I go back to working on more music themes. We hired a new guy a month ago and he's ready to take over the app, so, this is perfect timing.

Let's see what me and the AI-guy can come up with. :)

- Adam from Brain.fm

For people who liked Arurian Dance, check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkk6m14htzw (it's where the original sample from, which itself was an adaptation of the Pavane pour une infante défunte by Ravel)

Man that stuff is amazing. You/this comment is exactly why I read comments. GREAT STUFF.

Almost anything by Martin Stimming immediately puts me in the zone for a few hours of coding. E.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMd8VFC-lLQ

I'm giving this one a try. It's pretty annoying when the man starts speaking to be honest. At least when I want to concentrate. But the music is good.

Yeah, that's actually the track I had in mind when I wrote "almost". But most of his music gives me a really pleasant/chilling/surreal vibe that I haven't found anywhere else.

The music I like to listen to while programming is basically trip hop/acid jazz/lounge/world music/some techno.

Some songs that are probably not well known that I like are:

I really like B. Fleischmann's Album "The Humbucking Coil" (particularly "Composure" and "Static Grate").

I also like Meteorology by Overseer .. it sounds like Royksopp. Its a weird song but I like.

Anyway my playlist is here:


Great list! - Bookmarked! I recently found out Entheogenic[1] and so far loving the music.

[1] : http://www.entheogenic.net/index.html

If you like Entheogenic, I highly recommend OTT - https://ottsonic.bandcamp.com/

Just spent past few hours listening to OTT, thanks for recommending and +1 to them!

So then I highly recommend Emancipator

many thanks! looks good!

I guess I'm pretty weird for programming to tribal punk:


I used to do it to heavy metal. I joke it keeps the little nagging hyperactive creature inside my brain entertained so it doesn't mess up the rest that's trying to work.

I immediately imagined an Inside Out-like scene where one feeling is trying to concentrate and an army of other feelings plays tuba, rides bikes, cooks, sings, asks about opinions...

Don Slepian makes nice ambient/new age music, and is notable for having made it algorithmically at Bell Labs in the late 70s, where he was artist-in-residence.



What's wrong with silence?

At most workplaces, you don't have silence. And even if we had, don't know about you, but absolute silence makes my wind wander more than with a background music.

Music can help people be more creative/productive/focused.

My favourite remains the Drone Zone channel from SomaFM: https://somafm.com/dronezone/

Second are their channels that mix voice with ambient music (mission control and sf police), it's a great combination to focus

Saved, will go through them in upcoming programming sessions :)

I recently discovered pulse emitter and I find it really improves my flow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c_RBU-h2Uo

Excellent ! Thank you.. I am sure this will accompany me through countless hours of coding..

There's a before and after to Nujabes - it marks your life, enjoy!

<3 Nujabes RIP

For the hip hop heads check out 9th Wonder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBX_ADoO-7E

When I started listening to techno/electro music I quickly found about Nujabes (I am more into the Japanese scene) but later he got into a traffic accident. What a pity to this world.

I was so incredibly sad when I found out that he wasn't around to make more. I haven't found another artist that appeals to me like him. Rest in peace Jun Seba.

Created an account just to say this is amazing. Rest in beats!

For me it's

1. Absolute silence (as in - no music)

2. Pink Floyd (mostly Wish You Were Here)

sergiotapia imagine in 5-10 years you leave a comment like this and then come back and write ... wow crap the AI is soo much better than the talented artist I loved for life! I just wanna go back to his stuff for nostalgia sometimes but honestly it's not even close. Can you imagine that?

I've been listening to Nujabes's various albums going on 11 years now, so I don't have to imagine that scenario. His music isn't going anywhere.

If you like Nujabes, try Fat Jon too.

I'll second Fat Jon (full title Fat Jon the Ample Soul Phsyician).

It is very similar music to Nujabes.


I was blown away when I encountered Nujabes. His accident was such a shame.

Adam from Brain.fm here! Happy to answer any questions. :)

I've been doing this stuff for a while and I love talking about it.

I've contacted Giovanni, our lead neuroscientist, so hopefully he'll be able to get on soon as well.

I'm a regular of HN and it's wild to see something of mine up here.

Honest feedback — I tried the service for 20 minutes (that's the amount of time that life allowed) and it felt promising. But you are fighting a hard battle here:

* "6 free sessions left" might not be enough for me to make sure that the music doesn't engage my creative hemisphere too much (I see this problem with most musical content),

* the pricing is fairly high. I'm in Poland and I pay $5 a month for Spotify, this is what you are compared to. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I need a fairly good justification to pay you $7/month just for ambient work music.

* I could not find out if there is an iPhone app. There seems to be, but I can't find it in the app store, and can't find mention of it on the web. This is important, I often work out of cafes, and I need a phone app with offline capability.

Just for the reference, on my phone you'd be competing with Naturespace, where I bought lots of tracks and which serves my needs for muting out the world around me.

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated!

There is discussion about extending the trial, and I agree completely.

And we're almost done with both the iPhone app and the Android app! Stay tuned :)

Good point about Spotify. I could have sworn I pay $10 for it. Around $8 for Netflix, unless I'm mistaken. At any rate, I try to stay out of the business processes that go into making those decisions, for my own sanity, with the exception of occasionally giving discounts to my 10 twitter followers ;) haha. I've relayed your feedback to Junaid my co-founder though. Thanks again.

I also want to discourage the use of "sessions." Lost one because I didn't change the time limit. Lost one because my computer/browser restarted. I'm wary of clicking things like 'skip' now, despite knowing that I could just incognito it. A thirty or even seven day trial would be much better!

Completely agree! We're on it. :)

Definitely don't want you to be wary of the skip button. That's an important feature. You should love the music you're playing.

So here's a pro-tip: as an anonymous user, play the session for just a little bit without moving the slider more than a minute or two. Click skip within that time period and you're golden.

The skip does have more leeway if you just register. It's free! Plus, as an anonymous user you're not going to get near as much variety. Every time you come back in incognito you'll get the same stuff. We have so many people doing this, but I don't know how they stand it! Truly though, I do not care if people go incognito.

But we just kinda need to know a bit about you to make sure you get the right sessions, instead of generic one-size-fits-all sessions. Yeah, I know how that sounds, as if I'm just dying to get your email or something, right? Use a fake one, who cares. I only need the survey information for one reason: Everyone's truly is - to quote Tyler Durden - a beautiful and unique snowflake ;)

It gets better and better afterwards and the more you use it.

Enjoy :)

- Adam from Brain.fm

For me it's just not worth it to create an account for 7 sessions. And paying is not an option either, after using it quite successfully for 1-2 weeks I am still not convinced to drop 7$ a month on it. As a college student that is a lot of money. With those 7 sessions it is not possible to estimate whether the app can actually create a lot of different sounds or not. With intense focus I have been through all of them I think and it was like 10-15 30 minute sessions. Nothing to spend money on.

Spotify and Netflix pricing varies by region. If you're in the US, you likely to pay $10 for it but the person you're responding to is in Poland and pays 19,99 PLN which is $5 USD.

Ah, thanks for clarifying. Was wondering if I was going crazy.

I'm sorry if I sound lay here, but I have probably the most basic question of all:

how do I know if it is actually working? How should I feel while (or after), say, I listen to the Intense Focus loop?

I actually tried a both Quick Relax and Intense Focus (both with earphones). For the latter I even did the registration and survey. I put the Quick Relax 15 minutes track, on first, closed my eyes and laid my head on my arm. Ten minutes in I wasn't feeling more relaxed either physically or mentally. So I tried again, but the track that came out this time felt a little unpleasant so I gave up.

So I went to try the Intense Focus thing, and I have been listening to it while reading all the comments to this reply and some others below this one. Once again I don't really feel more focused or anything. I'm sorry to say this but I even find some tracks unpleasant to listen to.

Am I doing something wrong? Are there optimal conditions I should put myself in for this to work? Does the fact that there was low noise (TV in the other room) around me might have prevented the Quick Relax from working?

I don't mean to sound to negative here, mine are just genuine questions from someone who would really like something like this to work.

I have tried a both a 15-minute "quick relax" session and a full 8-hour sleep session. Based on the "quick relax" session, I assumed this music was based primarily on binaural beats (hence the need for headphones), but the sleep session didn't seem to use the beats as strongly (if at all). I have trouble sleeping at night due to both stress and restless leg syndrome, and while this music didn't put me to sleep right away (and the headphones definitely didn't help), I do think I was better off last night with the music than without.

I would be willing to pay for this, but the current price is too high. I think about $24/year would be something I could justify (but still not an impulse buy). I listen to a lot of DJ mixes for free on Youtube/Mixcloud and buy a few tracks a month to support the producers I like. If I were to add your service as well, that would more than double my cost of music.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Not to add to your expenses, but definitely invest in some "sleep phones." I like the Took's brand, and it's the cheapest. You can lay completely on your side and the wafer-thin speakers don't bother you at all. Pretty decent sound quality too.

Sleep-phones are unfortunately essential to get the most out of the session, especially as an insomniac. (to be clear, I have no affiliation with any headphone brand)

I'm a lifelong, severe insomniac. Have restless leg too, though minor in my case. It was a major frustration for 11 years that I couldn't truly help my own insomnia with the audio stuff I was doing. There were protocols others had used/recommended, but they were pretty limited in their effectiveness. I kept experimenting with things, testing mostly on myself. The real breakthrough came when we perfected our use of HRTF ("3D" audio).

My problem was mostly sleep-onset insomnia, and this enabled me to create an interesting, constantly-moving 3D scene that was able to dissociate me from my daily worries and chattery mind. If you notice, the sounds rotate around your head. Our neuroscientist Giovanni Santostasi hypothesizes that one of the reasons the thing works so well is because it mimics the effect of rocking in a cradle or a hammock, since the ears do somewhat have to do with balance (he mentioned a study in which they analyzed the effects of rocking and it enhanced the quality of sleep from an EEG perspective - can ask him for it if you want).

After that it was a matter of finding relaxing ways to implement the stimulation. Giovanni is an expert on what's called slow-wave sleep. It's the deepest stage of sleep, and is where memory is largely consolidated. His work at Northwestern is almost exclusively developing audio stimulation to enhance slow-wave sleep. They recently got a ridiculous large grant from DARPA for it. Look him up if you're interested.

So, after some talk, I created a protocol to stimulate slow waves that also ended up involving the 3D audio.

It took some tweaking, lots and lots of testing, but the end results were... staggering. Frankly unbelievable.

The first time Giovanni did a sleep study on me with this new protocol, he thought I had faked the EEG data somehow, and I don't blame him. It was frankly more likely that I had somehow generated fake EEG-like microvolts for 8 hours than get the result that we did. Then he tried it on himself and got nearly the same result, which was a surprise because he can sleep standing up if he's tired enough.

What he saw on the EEG was that the sleep protocol enhances slow-wave oscillations by 20-30%. To put this in perspective, if you decide to pull and all-nighter tonight, tomorrow when you sleep, you'll see a slow-wave gain of only about 10% to compensate.

It's an insane result. Absolutely ridiculous.

But the thing is, the result is clear as day if you do a sleep study. We confirmed and confirmed and confirmed it. Take a look at the sleep study analysis on the website. I know it's hard to parse - we need to convert it into non-giovanni-speak. But look at those correlations, and how consistent the result of the stimulation is between subjects...

Not only this, but we're showing an increase in what are called Spindles, which are highly associated with memory consolidation. It's very likely that we are also increasing memory consolidation with this, in the same way that his department at NW is showing that using a phase-lock-loop auditory stimulus enhances memory consolidation.

I know you didn't ask any of this, it's probably boring. I'm just very passionate about sleep. Have a lot more to say about it in general but will stop here :)

To sum it up: What I'm getting at is that even if you weren't an insomniac, you can still very much benefit from using the sleep sessions!

AND I will bet you that if you get some special headphones that allow more freedom, it will help you get to sleep as well.

Please keep me updated. Message me or find me on brain.fm. Would love to be updated on your progress. Tell you what, if you commit to getting some sleep-phones, I'll give you the price of the headphone's worth of free Brain.fm time to test this out. I'm just curious now, and love helping a fellow insomniac. :)

- Adam from Brain.fm

As I'm sure you're aware, restless leg is an odd "itch" that can only be "scratched" by movement (for lack of any good words to describe it). The movement isn't compulsory, but the discomfort becomes overwhelming without it. I suspect the sensation is there all the time and not just at night, but there are enough other stimuli during the day to drown it out. The brain.fm music seems to have been effective for the same reason, providing a welcome distraction from the sensation.

Restless leg is supposedly a mineral deficiency, but my blood work comes out normal, and supplements haven't been helpful. Up until now, the only remedy I've found is working out in the middle of the night, which replaces the restless sensation with a tired-from-exercise sensation. This only works if I can fall asleep before the exercise wears off. The brain.fm effect is less powerful than exercise, but doesn't have a time limit for falling asleep. I wonder if this is unique to brain.fm, or if it would work with any other type of music.

Besides distracting from restless leg syndrome, the brain.fm music was quite relaxing (more so than ambient or nature music normally would be). I did notice the 3D effect, and wondered what that was about. There is clearly something going on here, but I don't have the knowledge or tools to say what. It sounds like your EEG sleep studies have done just that, so thanks for mentioning those. I had no idea it was so measurable.

This would be worthwhile it if the results are as good as you say they are. I've gone ahead and purchased the headphones - for science! Thanks for the offer, and for your epically-long reply. This type of thing is fascinating to me.

Great, so glad it's helping! Wait till you get the headphones... a whole new level. Keep me updated. I had Aaron get in touch with you but please feel free to send me any updates directly. Just my first name and brain.fm

Don't stop exercising though ;)

- Adam

I'm having a hard time finding the "sleep phones" by any brand named Took that you referred to. Would you mind sharing a link to them?

The website had a link to the headphones in one of the FAQ documents. They are called "Tooks NextGen SPORTEC BAND" ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01459BC7G)

I think the AI aspect could provide some interesting additional business ideas. I guess it's just AI for the uninformed, for you it's an algorithm that follows certain principles (no abrupt breaks, constant level...). Creating playlists of songs that (when mixed together) adhere to those principles would be interesting in my opinion.

Thanks, yeah I had thought of that. I think it could potentially be useful in lots of different ways. Right now though it's very much geared toward this specific purpose. Much of its initial purpose was to align everything with the modulations/filters we're using, because doing it manually in a DAW is hell.

It's definitely not meant to replace musicians/composers. Actually I still work with musicians/composers to create tiny bits of sound (individual notes, etc) and stems for the AI to work with. More importantly, I'll work them to help me figure out how I can improve the AI for certain genres. Indie music / folk, for example, are particularly difficult. Rock, near impossible, so far. Could be the limitation of the stereotypical 3:05 long song, but then I think, Mike Oldfield.. haha. Fun challenges!

I would LOVE to make a tool for musicians though. The 3D-audio stuff alone could be pretty useful I think. If I can do some cool stuff with it, I'd love to see what other, more creative people can do. I've never seen it done this way. There's some VST plugins, but they're not that great. Of course there's a ton of binaural microphone recordings, like the barbershop. But it's a whole different level to be able to move thousands of generated sounds around in 3D space.

Maybe sometime in the future when things calm down :)

There are quite a few consumer EEG headsets now: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_consumer_brain%E...

Would it be possible to train the music against user-collected EEG data (coupled with cognition tests or sleep data)?

Hey Adam. I had a question :) I was curious about what sort of model you used to program the "AI" part of it?

Hey, happy to answer that. Do a page find for the word "emergent" here and you should find it. I've explained it a few times, though briefly. I did a write-up of it a while back that I need to find and post somewhere. But anyway, feel free to reply here if you have any questions at all.

heh, "emergent." Sounds like I'm asking you look up the latest Hunger Games knockoff.

Hi Could you explain, technically, how and by what you think the brain waves are being manipulated? Thanks

Hey, great question, though I'm not sure if you want the audio or neurological explanation, or both :)

I'm also not sure how technical you want or how much you know already, so apologies if I'm too technical, and apologies if I'm not technical enough. I'll just try to start from the beginning and lay everything out from there, as briefly as I can. Tragically, however, I was born without brevity.

1) Brain.fm: The Brain's Perspective

When a sound enters your ear, it's converted from a pressure wave to an electrical impulse, which you can measure in the brain as a kind of spike on an EEG, or a cortical response. If the sound plays again, another spike occurs (although typically smaller). If a sound keeps being repeated in a fast and precise enough way, the cortical responses start to resemble rhythms already in the brain.

For example, if you tap your finger rapidly on the table, you might be tapping at 10hz (10 taps a second). 10hz is also a very dominant in the brain. If you could tap your finger precisely enough, and for a long enough time, what you would see in the brain (if you know what you're doing) is new activity at 10hz. This is called the Frequency Following Response, and it's well established. Check it out on pubmed, etc, if you're interested.

Now if you keep tapping for even longer - and again, if you're super precise about it - your existing brainwave patterns near that same frequency will start to align themselves towards the phase and frequency of your tapping.

BTW sorry about the delay in responding to you. Believe it or not, in between some meetings I was searching for a good article this whole time to show you. Here it is: http://www.pnas.org/content/111/41/14935.full

This effect is called lots of things, including, confusingly, the frequency-following response by some in the private sector. It's most often known by the public as brainwave entrainment, but that's rarely in the literature. In the literature you see all kinds of words for it: neural entrainment, auditory driving, auditory entrainment, steady state responses of various types... The level of confusion over what to call this thing is only eclipsed by the number of names made up for methods to induce it - all referring to the same thing: rhythmic auditory stimuli. No, better not call it that, in this paper its gonna be sinusoidal amplitude modulation, click trains, acoustic iterance, isochronous auditory stimuli, temporal sound... So, it gets a bit crazy when you try to search for this stuff (so we'll be adding even more to our bibliography/research library soon. Let me know if you haven't seen that yet).

For the sake of this post let's just call it Entrainment.

Something that's also being figured out is how to define when exactly Frequency Following ends and Entrainment begins. Some say it doesn't matter, others say it's when the phase lines up, or if the new rhythm persists even when the external stimuli is removed, as in the article I linked you to. There's also ways to approximate the root source of a neural rhythm (external or internal), if you also feed the stimuli into the analysis at the same exact time.

Anyway, to sum it up, what we're doing is creating a rhythmic stimuli that resembles frequencies already in your brain. We play that stimuli long and consistently enough to actually register a pretty solid response on an EEG.

Of course, it gets more complicated than that. This is the brain we're talking about. The waveform of the audio modulations matters (brainwaves aren't perfect sine waves, after all), the way the frequency is changed over time matters. When do you take a break from the stimulation? When do you tone it down, or turn it up? And how do you adapt to people on an individual level? How do you measure it? Audio processing can change dramatically in the brain depending on the content of the audio!

But at any rate, changing the brainwaves of a person like this can also change their mental state. I'm not saying it takes over the brain. It just.. nudges it a bit in the right direction.

So that's the basic outline from that perspective. Hope it makes sense, of course if you have any questions don't hesitate.

2) Brain.fm: The Music Perspective

From an audio's point of view, we're doing a number of things to subtly create that necessary rhythmic stimulus.

a) We're modulating every piece of audio. It's these modulations that create a rapid rhythmic stimulus. If you listen carefully to Brain.fm, you may hear a fluttering sound. It's more obvious in some parts over others. We're using filtering techniques to target some frequency bands over others (and by frequency here, I'm now talking about the frequencies of pitch, not brainwaves, where a cello would be low and a violin would be high in frequency). Doing this, we can single out instruments, modulate parts of a nature soundscape but not others, or disguise the modulations as vibrator, tremolo, or the natural vibrations of instruments, strings or the LFOs of electronic music..

b) We align everything else in the session to the brain-frequency we're trying to hit, so there is no interference from a stray drum beat or a snapping twig. Not only is there no interference, but the entire audio "scene" is being actively used to guide your brain toward the goal state.

The 3D audio also factors into this a lot, because the mind pays attention to motion, and that helps elliminate habituation. But that's another story.

Hope this helped explain it. Completely understand if you need clarification, or an entirely new answer hah!


- Adam from Brain.fm

Hi Adam, Thanks for the response.

I know it was a vague question of mine, but I didn't realise the detail you were prepared to give it. So thanks, again. I'm no expert (my background is more musical), but I do understand most these concepts and perspectives involved. To articulate better my question: Technically how are you manipulating audio and what effect does that have on brainwaves. Your answer, understandably, was more contextual than specific. so let me specify the parts I am hoping to understand.

How do you manipulate audio?

I am in right in understanding your disguising a basic and specific pulse throughout the music. or... are you modulating it rhythmically (very slightly) out of phase with the rest of the music. If you are only applying it to certain frequencies then it seems you may be creating binaural beat like tendencies in the ears abillity to create implicit tones (Hidden frequencies, not physically present).

What effect does this have on brainwaves?

You stated in general you are matching rhythms to that of the brain. Can you expound this? What theory of Rhythmic psychological organissation are you purporting/ascribing to? how is your audio intereacting with this model? What is the effect of your audio on the model?

I understand you may have a whole toolbox of tricks going on here and that you don't want to give away your product entirely. Feel free to gloss over introducing technical terms, though its helpful for all reading, I think most people here can quickly come upto speed on stuff. I'm not asking you for the secrets of your product - just more specifics on how it relates to the research you are citing.

Thanks for the article link, it looks very interesting reading.

A couple of reflections on your product: I personally don't like the music and therefore can't listen to it. It doesn't sound human to me and therefore my brain rejects it. Have you heard of the theory of "participatory discrepancy" (Keil C. and Feld, S. (1994). It highlights the value of discrepencies (randomness) rhythm for creating groove. I think cognitivly there is a similar principle at play (perhaps you know it, I can't find reference to it right now - will dig it out if this area interests you). I also feel, on the website, that the lack of actual specifics twinned with a large scholary general body of work, is ultimately devaluing your product. Though that may, quite rightly, be your choice in promotion, to engage me a couple of pages about whats actually going, twinned with a couple of very specifc to your model studies, would make me give this product real integrity and longterm value. For example Stober's powerpoint on the MIIR EEG dataset here (http://bib.sebastianstober.de/2015-01-31_NEMISIG.pdf - illustrates complex concepts that your describing, very simply. Incidentally I think lifetime subcriptions after a long trial period would probably have the most chance of getting my support.

Do you have any science to back those claims up? What are you basing it on?

Hey, good question!

Here's a bibliography we're still working on. More to add, but a good start so far: https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ResearchLibrary.pdf

We've also done our own research that is pending publication:

https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/EEGFocusAnalysis.pdf https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/EEGSleepAnalysis.pdf

Here's an independent study on HRV using our tech: https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ElioConteHRVandBWE.pdf

We're planning on following that one up with a more robust study, because our users do get great results with HRV and it's an interesting topic.

One of our former neuroscientists published a meta-analysis, but it's a bit outdated now re: what we're doing. Still, it's on our site or in the journal if you're interested. :)

On the brain.fm they list results, but they are super flimsy. For focus, for example, n=17, and the difference between music vs non-music is much smaller than the standard deviation of either group.

So it's possible this stuff helps you focus, but it doesn't appear to be showing up on these studies.

Giovanni responded to the main thread. I asked him to respond to this specifically but he's super busy. This is his response:

"He doesn't know what he is talking about. Means do not have to be a standard deviation away to make the result significant."

It's actually a really good result, for a number of reasons. But I'll let Giovanni respond to this later and clarify (he's the neuroscientist that wrote the paper).

I apologize for the delay, he's dealing with some family and health problems right now. But I promise we'll clear this up.

Hi. The see what's included link isn't working properly. The content isn't there. From the "Unlock the full Brain.fm journey"

Oops, thanks a lot! Logged the bug, should be fixed soon. Sorry about that.

I believe taste/preference as the differentiator is missing.

The "intense + focus" music on brain.fm puts me to sleep. My coding music is ASOT weekly series, it's usually couple of hours of house and trance music where I get immersed into coding zone and once finished i take a 10-15min break, repeat.

When I concentrate I don't hear anything that's when I know I'm in the zone. It's my preference and it's surely different from yours, hence why the differentiator is missing.

ASOT Episode 751: https://www.mixcloud.com/dancecontrol/armin-van-buuren-a-sta...

same. I prefer anything but the relaxing kind of repetitive music they'd suggest. the whole thread above this also has very nice music suggestion, but nothing I'd use to get in the zone.

This is actually great feedback. I can definitely create some trance, house, etc. There is techno/electronic music already in there, but only at around 120bpm, and probably won't be as bass-intensive or dramatic as you're used to.

Junaid my co-founder shares a lot of your taste, and so does my sister, so I have a few willing guinea pigs :)

- Adam from Brian.fm

Don't know if you'll like this but these do it for me

DJ Apsara, After Dark. https://soundcloud.com/search?q=dj%20apsara%20afterdark

I'm sure that most of the benefit of using this tool is derived from the fact that the music is consistently low-tempo and relaxing ambient music. Comparing that to an album of ambient music, it might not be so consistent in its style and so could distract from the focus.

Still, the generated music is quite nice. I still feel that I'd rather listen to a real album, though, created with artistic intent and not computer generated. Music (as a listener and creator) is very important to me and I'm not ready to concede its creation to the machines just yet. Perhaps in a few more years...

Hey, this Adam from Brain.fm. I created the music "AI" thing.

Glad to have the praise of a musician! My family's very musical, so it took some convincing for them as well.

The thing is, it still takes creativity! It took me half a year to create it, and there's a little piece of my soul in this AI.

A horcrux, programmed in. :) It makes music how I would make music. Well, most of the time.

I had to create the thing because it was taking me a month to create a single session manually, and much of what I had to do was so precise that an algorithm could do it easier. Every note, every beat, has to be perfectly synchronized with the other filters we're applying to the music. So I built some algorithms, but they piled up, had to be constantly re-calibrated based on additions to the music as I kept composing. Keep in mind these are half hour to hour long pieces! And there's no shortcuts - I can't just throw a bunch of music in there, because even the smallest pop/overclip/dissonant moment, could wake someone up, or break their concentration... It just got to a point where something with more working memory than me had to take over.

The music in Brain.fm is very structured and obeys strict rules. There are some genres I can't get right yet - rock, folk, and so on. Although I'm always happy when people like it, and I like to think I did a good job giving the AI decent taste, I definitely don't have any illusions about this replacing humans :)

Did you take a listen to the Focus categories? Most of those are 120bpm. (skip around till you hit the classical one - I fed the AI harpsichord concertos I grew up with. Cool example of how maybe this could help some composers!)

Got a link to your stuff? Love to hear it.

- Adam

(oh and also there is definitely more than ambient music even in the relaxation sessions. Give it another listen if you have a moment. Skip around. There's indian music, mongolian chants, and the nature sounds are also all AI-generated. Every gust of wind, every raindrop :)

What makes you use the word "AI" as opposed to "algorithm"? What kind of AI techniques do you use just broadly speaking (I mean techniques that are described in AI textbooks, AI courses, AI conferences)?

Sure! Happy to explain it. Although I have to say I'm not sure what textbooks are saying these days. When I talk to programmers right out of college sometimes there's a bit of confusion as they talk about patterns I know, but using different names. I grew up programming on an 8088. :)

In a podcast called College Info Geek and recently in I did a talk at Northwestern (The Garage) and I called what I'm doing "Emergent" because there are many competing little pieces. Let's see if I can explain it quickly here, though please don't be too hard on me I'm trying my best to answer a lot of questions, but I'm really happy to go more into later after all this dies down :) Conceptually, you could think of it as first creating what I'll call "song-bot", which acts a kind of overlord, and has some instructions from me (like maybe there's some specific chords I want it to use, keys to avoid, tempo, brainwave protocols, genre, etc, etc). This song-bot guy then spawns a bunch of little other bots that compete with each other for the right to play/fade in/or generally be a part of the final result. These little guys have different characteristics, like a "drum-bot" might has different places it "wants" to be placed, and so generally competes with other drums, but not always. Sometimes I'll even have little "bots" for individual notes of a certain instrument. They obey certain rules of course, to form a background, drum line, or a simple melody, and then they pass that information along to subsequent incarnations (there's some learning involved in that process, though I hesitate to give it any textbook term - man, you have me terrified here of defining something wrong! :) ). Through that learning, the pattern the original little guys made has more weight and will tend to repeat. But again, not always.

After a while, a song... emerges. A kind of "emergent intelligence."

The resulting song can be quite complex and varied. Of course there's more to it, because songs have sections, but all in all the genres I'm using are very structured. Techno especially, is very easy for the AI. Sometimes I'm tasked with creating a theme in a particularly difficult genre, and that's when it gets really tricky/fun (such as some of the Indian ones, which were labors of love). In these cases, I may have to re-rerun many "generations" of the AI through the same song from beginning to end, with different parameters/instruments, but with the same patterns/learning, because what can happen in these cases is that it starts out simple, and increases in complexity as it goes, so the start can sometimes be a bit boring.

Also keep in mind this is just a conceptual explanation. The code is much less amusing. Thinking of naming processes "bots" though just for fun.

I hope I explained it OK. Listen, I'm not saying it's Watson or anything, it's really just a necessary step I had to take in order to make the computer do what I wanted it to do. I tried out some different ideas, and this one worked the best. I like the result at least :)

That's fine and makes sense. I wouldn't call it AI though.

The marketing is just too overhyped and in-your-face for my taste. It reminds me of the startup called "The Grid", which claimed they will build a website-creating AI. It's an often misused term in marketing.

Another cool mystery term is precisely "emergent". Okay I'm not trying to be harsh on you, and I know that marketing is all about exaggeration and wooing people into buying your product and having the right keywords so that tech news portals pick up on you and can produce a clickbaitish title etc. Also it may enhance the placebo effect in such soft areas as this.

Anyway, I do like how it actually sounds and it seems to have worked on me somewhat, but I'm not too sure about that or how much of it is placebo.

I didn't make up the term "emergent." AFAIK it's an established type of AI.



We're not using that term anywhere in the marketing either.

This is just me talking here man. I'm not a marketer, or even really a good businessman. I did this for 13 years and we're just now taking off. I do music and programming, that's it. :)

But I do think Junaid did a great job on the site. Yeah there's more work to do, always is.

Tough crowd here at HN.

- Adam

I guess you can't talk much about the AI as it's proprietary? It sounds pretty interesting though.

What harpsichord concertos did you feed it?

Is every session that is created unique? So you are not listening to the same thing each time?

It is proprietary I guess, but I don't really mind talking about it :) I did a talk recently at Northwestern (The Garage) and they were interested, so I spilled the beans. I'd like to get that talk up actually.

I used the Bach's harpsichord concertos - Allegro/Presto/etc, since we're doing focus in that case. It's actually the 2nd most popular theme on the site! I made that one for myself to be honest - I grew up with those things and it was a labor of love, that one. Took some major reconfiguring, but it was worth it I think.

You're definitely not listening to the same thing each time. There's a huge variety. It doesn't generate the sessions in real-time (audio processing of this kind is very, very CPU intensive), but we take the data we get and process it for later use. At this point there's so many sessions "cached" that you get huge variety right off the bat and we're building up an infrastructure to create more sessions faster

I'll be adding more "themes" later. To explain, in some cases there are sessions that use a specific protocol, like the harpsichord one. That's static. But other themes are more flexible, and so different protocols can be used for the same theme. By protocol I mean what we're actually trying to stimulate in the brain.

That is pretty cool.

Some people here have questioned the science behind the claims of focus and relaxation etc, but even without that as a product feature what you're making is pretty awesome.

I can imagine a product where you can combine a bunch of composers and genres and it'll just write songs for you to listen to :)

I'm signing up just to listen to the music your thing makes!

P.S. I played a few Bach pieces while learning Piano, he's one of my favourite composers!

Hey, thanks! I appreciate that. I played classical guitar as a kid - still do. And Bach is definitely a favorite, though one of the most difficult. You just know he composed those lute pieces on his damned organ, where he could use 2 hands and 2 feet ;)

Yeah, I have to say it has not been a great experience here at HN. But, maybe I'll win them over yet. After 13 years, we're finally taking off, and the first thing I did was pour everything in the science, so we'll be there soon.

Well, enjoy Brain.fm! And feel free to drop me a line with an update any time.

- Adam

>We take the data we get and process it for later use

What data do you collect/use to make the music?

Since you mentioned "the smallest pop", I thought you might be interested to know that the volume slider causes discontinuity pops, at least on Firefox, and could benefit from some smoothing.

Very nice music on the site!

Ahh! Damnit! I did not know that, sorry. Audio playback is remarkably inconsistent between browsers, or even between the same browser versions in different environments. It's a big headache.

Glad you dig the music :)

It's putting me to sleep, even though I'm listening through speakers and not headphones.

Which category were you listening to?

It's definitely a whole different experience with headphones :)

I picked something sleepy.

Ah, well, glad it worked then :)

Perhaps it's just your mind getting easily tired from having to focus for large periods of time?

After a quick little look through the Terms of Service...


I guess this is a helpful disclaimer in many ways, because this allows me to presume that all their claims are invented, all their peer reviews are suspect, and that their entire product line is inferior to a generic recording of waves hitting the beach, crickets at night, or a babbling brook.

It's just a standard TOS, man.

Here's the Terms Of Service for Yale:


Here's Amazon:


And here's Pfizer:


I mean, I can talk to my lawyer about changing it if you really think it's that bad. :)

Nah I mean I just read it and it basically gives the impression that there's no merit to the claims and any and all results are subject to personal interpretation.

Or, to put it in more simple terms pending peer reviewed, refereed scientific findings, Brain.Fm is the HeadOn of audio.

OK fair enough, I'll see if we can get a better one then.

Honest to god we just used a standard one we got over a decade ago, and customized it with our name. We might have even gotten it off of legal zoom or something.

- The HRV/(stress/anxiety) study is peer-reviewed (and independent, we had no part in it).

- All our other papers are pending publication.

- Giovanni's work on acoustic stimulation is peer reviewed, and from Northwestern. Again, we had no part in that.

- The meta-analysis one of our previous neuroscientists made is also peer reviewed.

- Dr. Olmstead's paper is peer reviewed, so's the Fatigue one we have up there, and all the other ones in our bibliography: https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ResearchLibrary.pdf

- Hell, we're even having our statistical user analysis peer reviewed, the one we have up (before we got popular) and the new one we're making now.

Tryin' our best here :)

- Adam

This belongs to the same drawer as binaural beats.

If you open all of them in different tabs, do you become good at everything?

You achieve enlightenment and use up your 7 free sessions

You can bypass the 7 free sessions limit by using Chrome Incognito, just open a new tab each time you run out of sessions

Rude to put this out there. If anyone here couldn't have figured this out themselves then I'm curious as to how they ended up trawling HN.

Does firefox have the Buddah Nature?


I like the way the music sounds but I'm very skeptical of the science and the AI behind it.

Dr. Steven Novella on brainwave entrainment, from 2008:


"That is generally where the science ends and the pseudoscience begins. A number of companies and individuals have then extrapolated from the phenomenon of entrainment to claim that altering the brain waves changes the actual functioning of the brain. There is no theoretical or empirical basis for this, however. Entrainment is a temporary effect on the synchronization of neuronal firing – it does not improve or increase brain functioning, it does not change the hardwiring, nor does it cure any neurological disorder. There is no compelling evidence for any effect beyond the period of entrainment itself."

I do like the "Cyberpunk" atmosphere of some of the music. But their other claims require some extraordinary evidence.

For example, does this impart any more benefit than me listening to my favorite working music whilst working? It doesn't seem to. But I haven't had a chance to sift through their supposed "180 studies"

Yeah, I'd also like to see a study where they test this magic-AI-music against some generic 10 hours relax/focus music from Youtube (or the Machinarium or Age of Empires 2 soundtrack). Properly randomized and blinded etc.

I'd also like to know what it means that this is produced by an AI. What do they optimize for? I mean it would be really cool if they could do some reinforcement learning with real time EEG feedback and whatnot, but I think there is not much AI going on here. Perhaps even zero.

Also, the UI contains a lot of bullshit frills and wizardry, writing stuff like "generating your brainwave" and shiny animations (It's like how MSN messenger used to write "Loading your friend list..." and other recognizable and understandable things for half the time of its loading screen).

And then after one session it makes us click through a personal survey, where you have to click yes or no, for questions like "are you easily distracted", "do you have problems with concentrating", "do you have issues with personal organization" and similar stuff, do you have anxiety etc etc. It's a bit like they are trying to make you realize that "yeah, kinda, I think I could improve myself in these things, let's click yes". I'm not sure how they call this psychological manipulation technique, but I've read about it somewhere. Basically it's the same idea as some cashiers being instructed to ask you if your shopping was a pleasant experience. You want to be polite and go on with the script, but then you'll still identify with that "yes" answer.

Generally, the site rubs me the wrong way. It seems to be targeted at people who don't know much about science or AI, but like the brand and image of science and AI, as these are cool things nowadays. It also builds upon gamification and all these manipulative things.

> "I'm not sure how they call this psychological manipulation technique"

You could see this personal survey as a way for the site to make you doubt or question yourself subconsciously. For you to even read the question, you have to process that question introspectively. The more questions you answer, the more likely you'll find something you'll want to improve. Then miraculously this site is the silver bullet. Buy more sessions here [enter credit card info].

Another way you could see this product, the survey, and the upsell could be through the perspective of NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming). The two concepts to focus on would be pacing and leading. You listen to the relaxing ambient music and you become calm. (Pacing) Afterwards the survey pops up when you're in a more docile state. You answer these questions. Each of which is ever so slightly leading you to the conclusion that this product is the solution to the problems you've clicked "Yes" to.

Are you saying that the site uses specially crafted music to trick you into believing that specially crafted music can modify your mind?

It's called "commitment and consistency" among Cialdini's six principles of influence (in "The Psychology of Persuasion", which I believe is sort of a classic)

Hey, glad you like the music. :)

Regarding the Novella quote:

> [no evidence that] altering the brain waves changes the actual functioning of the brain

That post was from a while ago, so I'm not sure if he's updated his opinion, but there's plenty of evidence that changing brain waves affects the functioning of the brain. I feel I should have Giovanni respond to that specifically so I'll get him on here as soon as he's available.

> There is no compelling evidence for any effect beyond the period of entrainment itself.

There is evidence for it, but at any rate we're not claiming that. We're helping people sleep or relax while they listen, helping them focus while they listen.

> does this impart any more benefit than me listening to my favorite working music whilst working?

I'd be super interested to find out! In the study we did on our focus sessions, we compared very similar music - still generated by the AI actually. We have the unique ability to create a sham that sounds nearly identical to the experiment, due to the way we "disguise" the stimulation as vibrato, tremolo, normal instrumental vibrations, electronic LFOs, and so on. So we opted for that instead of letting them choose something from spotify, etc. I actually think we would have gotten a much greater result in that case, because the AI-generated music - although not containing "entraining" modulations - still obeyed rules designed to keep the music from being distracting (no lyrics or abrupt stops, volume consistency, avoiding certain frequency ranges (pitches), and so on). Even so, if you find your existing music to work, why switch? Give both a try, see what you think, base your decision on results. Or use both, depending on how you feel? Today I coded to Queen and then Brain.fm and then some Motown. I especially love video game soundtracks like Chrono Cross, WarcraftIII, Wipeout... Brain.fm is there if I need an extra boost.

I'd love to hear what you listen to? Kind of a hobby of mine to collect people's work music :)

"There is evidence for it"

I would be super interested to see some evidence. Any peer reviewed journals would be fine

Sure! I spent some time looking through my library. Here's some, but there are more. There's some I really wanted to show you but will take more time to get the actual reference. Sorry, if you're interested, please email us when all this craziness is over :) Also apologies about the lack of consistent formatting or alphabetizing :)

Oudiette, D., G. Santostasi, and K.A. Paller, Reinforcing rhythms in the sleeping brain with a computerized metronome. Neuron, 2013. 78(3): p. 413-5.

Santostasi, G., R. Malkani, B. Riedner, M. Bellesi, G. Tononi, K.A. Paller, et al., Phase-locked loop for precisely timed acoustic stimulation during sleep. J Neurosci Methods, 2016. 259: p. 101-14.

Tononi, G., B.A. Riedner, B.K. Hulse, F. Ferrarelli, and S. Sarasso, Enhancing sleep slow waves with natural stimuli. . Medica Mundi, 2010. 54(2): p. 73–79.

Joyce, M. and Siever, D., 2000. "Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) Program as a Treatment for Behavior Disorders in a School Setting." Journal of Neurotherapy. 4, 9-25.

Berg, K., and Siever, D., 2009. "A controlled comparison of audio-visual entrainment for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder." Journal of Neurotherapy 13.3 (2009): 166-175.

Ossebaard, H. C., 2000. "Stress reduction by technology? An experimental study into the effects of brainmachines on burnout and state anxiety." Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 25, 93-101.

Huang TL1, Charyton C. 2008 A comprehensive review of the psychological effects of brainwave entrainment. Altern Ther Health Med. 2008 Sep-Oct;14(5):38-50.

R Olmstead Use of auditory and visual stimulation to improve cognitive abilities in learning-disabled children. Journal of Neurotherapy, 2005

Ong, J.L., J.C. Lo, N.I. Chee, i.G. Santostas, K.A. Paller, P.C. Zee, et al., Effecsts of Phase-Locked Acoustic Stimulation During a Nap On EEG Spectra and Declarative Memory Consolidation.

Ngo, H.V., T. Martinetz, J. Born, and M. Molle, Auditory closed-loop stimulation of the sleep slow oscillation enhances memory. Neuron, 2013. 78(3): p. 545-53.

With photic stimulation:

San Martini, P., Venturini, R., Zapponi, G. A. and Loizzo, A., 1979." Interaction between intermittent photic stimulation and auditory stimulation on the human EEG. Preliminary investigation through power spectral analysis." Neuropsychobiology. 5, 201-206.

Kumano, H., Horie, H., Kuboki, T., Suematsu, H., Sato, H., Yasushi, M., Kamei, T. and Masumura, S., 1997. "EEG-driven photic stimulation effect on plasma cortisol and beta-endorphin." Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 22, 193-208.

Nomura, T., Higuchi, K., Yu, H., Sasaki, S., Kimura, S., Itoh, H., Taniguchi, M., Arakawa, T. and Kawai, K., 2006. "Slow-wave photic stimulation relieves patient discomfort during esophagogastroduodenoscopy." J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 21, 54-58.

Solomon, G. D., 1985. "Slow wave photic stimulation in the treatment of headache--a preliminary report." Headache. 25, 444-446.

Budzynski, T., Jordy, J., Budzynski, H., Tang, H. and Claypoole, K., 1999. "Academic Performance Enhancement with Photic Stimulation and EDR Feedback. Journal of Neurotherapy." 3, 11-21.

Patrick, G. J., 1996. "Improved neuronal regulation in ADHD: An application of fifteen sessions of photic-driven EEG neurotherapy." Journal of Neurotherapy. 1, 27-36.

Neurological disorders are often related to periodicity of body rhythms and I think its generally accepted that resonance theory on internal oscillators are still in an infant stage, especially regarding their long term and cross cultural capability for variance. All the promises stated are possible. But, I'd also like to see a simple summary of the theory underpinning this music, even just defining the type of entrainment would make the product far more interesting and valuable. This coupled with the in-your-face-sales, promises and gimmicks whilst casually alluding to studies (with no reference for technical points) makes me get the feeling I'm being duped.

Hey, Adam from Brian.fm here.

Thanks, glad you like it. There's a piece of my soul in that thing. Or I assume soul-transfer is what happens when you go full hermit for 5 months and gain 50 pounds creating something like this.

Any questions about the science or AI, happy to talk about it. :)

> There's a piece of my soul in that thing.

Good for you, but that's none of my business. I don't want to be harsh, but I don't like this kind of emotional manipulation. You're trying to prime me to be buddies with you and cut you some slack.

I have some questions. In what sense is this an AI and not simply a computer program? Did you use methods that are discussed in AI or machine learning textbooks and conferences, or did you simply put the cool label AI on what is essentially "just" a hand crafted algorithm?

I know there is no clear separation as AI is a subset of algorithms, but still I feel some dishonesty going on here.

Also in other comments by the company, I can see the attitude about the science that (not precisely quoted) "we're not sure yet, we're excited to find out" and "give it a try and compare it to other music how it goes for you" etc. Well, no. You're making the claim that there is some solid science going on behind this, that you have more than a dozen studies and you put pretty, science-y charts on the website. Now I'm not saying that it doesn't work, but please show me the peer reviewed randomized double blind studies that show altered brain waves and some significant quantitative change (preferably not only self-reported things about how they "feel"). Preferably there should be different groups: no music, generic pop music, normal ambient music, some baseline of your company's music and finally the specially crafted fully optimized version of your company's music.

Until I can see that, verified also by someone who's not paid by the company, I'll have my doubts.

Someone poured their heart and soul into something that may not make a profit! Don't be such a cranky scrooge just because they confess that.

An ex used to run neurological studies, and they are incredibly expensive. The small survey groups will no doubt improve with time. If you don't believe the hard science, then try the product and see if it works for you compared to the music that's linked to in the above posts. Further criticism is unwarranted.

> Someone poured their heart and soul into something that may not make a profit!

Sorry but that's irrelevant. A homeopathy practitioner could say the same thing.

Their site front page says in big font: "Dramatically improve focus, relaxation & sleep". And it says science all over the place and contains pretty sciency charts. An intentionally wide range of charts. Vertical and horizontal bar charts, pie charts, line graphs, all to make you go "this looks legit science!"

So where is the peer-reviewed, randomized, controlled, double blind trial to support these claims? The only study that tries to compare it with placebo music seems to be unpublished as of yet and all we can see is some charts. We don't see their methodology, the results, significance etc.

I would have no problem with this if they didn't brand it so extremely heavily on science.

Hey man, about to respond to your other question, but there was a similar question earlier so thought I'd just take this one first.

Here's a bibliography we're still working on. More to add, but a good start so far: https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ResearchLibrary.pdf

Here's an independent peer reviewed study on HRV using our tech: https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ElioConteHRVandBWE.pdf

We're planning on following that one up with a more robust study, because our users do get great results with HRV and it's an interesting topic.

One of our former neuroscientists published a well received meta analysis in a journal, but it's a bit outdated now re: what we're doing. Still, it's on our site if you're interested.

And then of course here's our own research that is pending publication:

https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/EEGFocusAnalysis.pdf https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/EEGSleepAnalysis.pdf

We also do regular analysis of user progress with a few statisticians I work with, and those will be published as well. Sorry, just takes time to get these things ready and through to a journal. Trying our best though. :)

I appreciate your honesty here. If I'm reading it right, result of the focus study is that the Music-Placebo difference is at p=0.044, 0.041, 0.048. So it is significant (under 0.05) but "just barely", which is always a warning sign, especially if the study was done and published by the company itself.

It's actually a very very good result for the tests we did. A similar study using a boatload of caffeine couldn't reach statistical significance. Also I believe strongly that if we'd compared it to say, classical music or some random ambient album, it would have been an even stronger result. The placebo in this study was still generated by the AI, so it followed the same rules - rules that naturally help people focus. The only thing it lacked was the brainwave stimulating modulations. We did see a big difference on an EEG because of that, but the fact is that part of what makes the sessions work is that they follow strict rules, and there's nothing wrong with that. It just makes it harder in this case.

But I actually like it like that. I want a double blind study with identical-sounding placebo and more subjects. After that we can study how it compares to regular music commonly used as study-aids.

Regarding the statistical analysis, result interpretation, etc, I feel I should let Giovanni himself defend his paper. He's dealing with family / health issues right now, but I hope to get him on here as soon as possible. I promise he will respond eventually and clear this up.

> I believe strongly that if we'd compared it to say, classical music or some random ambient album, it would have been an even stronger result.

Strong beliefs like that are still just hunches.

> I want a double blind study with identical-sounding placebo and more subjects. After that we can study how it compares to regular music commonly used as study-aids.

My problem is that you already decided that it "dramatically improves focus, relaxation and sleep". What if the new better study doesn't show the effect? Will you dissolve the company? Will you just change the marketing?

I'd also suggest "triple-blinding" the study, i.e. the person who does the statistical analysis on the computer should also not know which music was which.

Hey, thanks

haha, I know I shouldn't be surprised by now, now it's still funny to me that I am sending a heartfelt thanks to a one "slagfart" :)

Hey, no problem. Not trying to "prime" you here, this is just how I talk. I'm not that strategic. If you think it would help, I'd be happy to get on a call/skype? I just feel like there's some miscommunication going on here and I'd like to clear it up if I can.

1) Research:

I responded to your other comment with some research links. Here they are again just in case: https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ResearchLibrary.pdf https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ElioConteHRVandBWE.pdf https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/EEGFocusAnalysis.pdf https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/EEGSleepAnalysis.pdf More on our site as well, and we are working on the bibliography still. Some of it won't relate directly to your questions, such as the slow-wave stuff, because it's meant to be a general reference for what we're doing as a whole.

2) Pretty Charts:

The pretty charts you see are direct copies of the EEG analysis by Giovanni. We did try to make them pretty, but if you're interested in the originals check out the analyses Giovanni did. He'll be on at some point to explain them further if you want to direct some questions to him directly.

3) Your study procedure recommendation

Regarding your study procedure recommendation, that's a great idea. We did something very similar to that in the Focus analysis above. 3 conditions: No Music - Music Without Stimulation (placebo) - Music With Stimulation. To the untrained ear, the music was indistinguishable. Most people can't tell which is which, and the feedback we got from the subjects confirmed it. It was actually really interesting: some of them asked to be able to keep the placebo-music (not calling it that, obviously), saying they worked better on it, when their results often told a different story.

Next study will be double blind and have more subjects. Giovanni feels we have enough information now to do it right.

So, someone above asked about the AI thing and I'm happy to explain it. I'll paste a lot of that below. Although I have to say I'm not sure what textbooks are calling anything these days. When I talk to programmers right out of college sometimes there's a bit of confusion as they talk about patterns I know, but use different names. I grew up programming on an 8088, and I've been working for myself for 13 years, mostly by myself, so I'm sure I'm behind on a lot of things.

Having said that, I'd probably call what I'm doing "Emergent" because there are many competing little pieces. Let's see if I can explain it quickly here, though please don't be too hard on me I'm trying my best to answer a lot of questions, but I'm really happy to go more into later after all this dies down :) Conceptually, you could think of it as first creating what I'll call "song-bot", which acts a kind of overlord, and has some instructions from me (like maybe there's some specific chords I want it to use, keys to avoid, tempo, brainwave protocols, genre, etc, etc). This song-bot guy then spawns a bunch of little other bots that compete with each other for the right to play/fade in/or generally be a part of the final result. These little guys have different characteristics, like a "drum-bot" might has different places it "wants" to be placed, and so generally competes with other drums, but not always. Sometimes I'll even have little "bots" for individual notes of a certain instrument. They obey certain rules of course, to form a background, drum line, or a simple melody, and then they pass that information along to subsequent incarnations (there's some learning involved in that process, though I hesitate to give it any textbook term - man, you have me terrified here of defining something wrong! :) ). Through that learning, the pattern the original little guys made has more weight and will tend to repeat. But again, not always.

After a while, out of all these smaller, simple processes form a very complex song. Complexity "emerges." So I call it a kind of "emergent intelligence."

The resulting song can be quite complex and varied. Of course there's more to it, because songs have sections and clever variance, but all in all the genres I'm using are very structured. Techno especially, is very easy for the AI. Sometimes I'm tasked with creating a theme in a particularly difficult genre, and that's when it gets really tricky/fun (such as some of the Indian ones, which were labors of love). In these cases, I may have to re-rerun many "generations" of the AI through the same song from beginning to end, with different parameters/instruments, but with the same patterns/learning, because what can happen in these cases is that it starts out simple, and increases in complexity as it goes, so the start can sometimes be a bit boring.

Also keep in mind this is just a conceptual explanation. The code is much less amusing. Thinking of naming processes "bots" just for fun though.

I hope I explained it OK. Listen, I'm not saying it's Watson or anything, or even that I'm following the definition of "emergent intelligence." I didn't go to a textbook to make this, it's really just a necessary step I had to take in order to make the computer do what I wanted it to do. I tried out some different ideas, and this one worked the best, in my opinion at least.

- Adam from Brain.fm

> If you think it would help, I'd be happy to get on a call/skype? I just feel like there's some miscommunication going on here and I'd like to clear it up if I can.

Nah, no need. I can't say much more than what I said already. As a computer science major who took AI and machine learning courses and as a self-identifying scientific skeptic, I just felt the need to point out the fishy things going on here. Anyone here can read your reactions as well and build their opinion.

I just worked on something similar at a hackathon this weekend with the Muse Headband, it was really fun. We used a support vector machine to maximize the "calmness" output of the band, which is some weighted sum of gamma and beta waves I believe.

"We used a support vector machine to maximize the "calmness" output of the band"

fyi, this doesn't make sense.

How so? We give it different variables and let it change them incrementally. Calmness is a 0.0 - 1.0 floating point output from the band.

This was custom-made by the way.

Depends on what exactly you did, but the SVM doesn't maximize calmness - it finds a maximally separating hyperplane that separates calm data from not-calm data. If you had real-time biofeedback then the person wearing the handband might have used the feedback to help them relax, but in that case they are the one maximizing calmness, not the SVM.

Ok. My only experience with SVMs was reading the wikipedia article a year ago. Our implementation evolved pretty organically and I only thought later that it was like a SVM. thanks for the info.

What you've worked on sounds much more scientific than OP.

I'm not sure if that's fair.

They (claim to) have [0] a bunch of PhDs, and have a page with the same kind of words on [1] as parent.

  [0] https://www.brain.fm/about  
  [1] https://www.brain.fm/#science


Their man researcher has a PhD in Neuroscience and the lead guy has been researching and developing audio-neuro software for over 11 years.


Well, yes?!

Your implied complaint was that their work is not very scientific. The team having PhDs in neuroscience is irrelevant/unsatisfactory/bad?

What would you like to see? Would it have seemed more scientific to you if they'd done it at a hackathon?

Obviously irrelevant, which renders moot the other two questions that you asked me.

My point is that the work itself is what makes something scientific, not the workers' CVs (note the careful wording here; calling them researchers is another appeal to credentialism).

With that in mind, what would I like to see? You should be able to answer that one yourself now.

Is the Muse easy to hack? I was thinking of buying one to play with.

The hardest part of the weekend was getting real-time data through OSC. It's been done in Python and node before, but none of us were super proficient in getting data from the local server the scripts pushed to. This is the matlab library we eventually settled on: https://github.com/MuSAELab/muse_osc

I'd say it was pretty easy compared to Myo, but I wouldn't pay $300 for one. I'd use it again though if it was available for a weekend.

You can fiddle around with it connected to a PC pretty nicely in Python

I bought the Muse Headband to do something similar, but the headband sucks tbh

What was your problem with it? It's not very isolated from electrical noise, but it can be pretty good still.

Sounds like typical "drone" or "space" electronic music, which is arguably a subcategory of "ambient" music. (Not my cup of tea, but it is what it is.) Also recently discovered http://mynoise.net they have some interesting soundscapes.

My startup built basically the same thing, but if you had an eeg it would also learn your preferances and iterativly improve. We called it BrainBeats:


Startup: http://synaptitude.me

White noise helped me cope with exam stress at undergrad. Here's my favourite....


It doesn't seem as good as http://musicforprogramming.net/

I concur - although that may be because I've been a huge fan of musicforpgramming.net for years, and find it an immensely valuable tool.

That said, this HN thread has an awesome resource of other new music to listen to ..

>17 subject were tested to measure effects of a Brain.fm focus session

:( no mention of JM Jarre. Here are some oldies but goodies

Oxygene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IE9jShG9sD0

Magnetic fields https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyzXZ_NFVrg

I don't mind to try this new one... my favourite is http://musicforprogramming.net, all tracks are available as podcasts on iOS devices too.

I use these for coding/studying all the time. If you download all of them and put them on shuffle you basically have ~40 hours of music to jump into at any given moment.

Here is a script to download all of them : )


[edit] Previous gist only had 34 of the tracks, updated one has all 38.

love it :)

I subscribe to https://www.focusatwill.com/ I would like to see a comparison of the two to understand the pros and cons of each.


would love for you try brain.fm vs focusatwill and hear your review!

here's '$25 for life' deal to brain.fm: https://brain.fm/hackernews


cofounder, brain.fm

I've used both a few times today, but it is really hard for me to judge how "focused" I was. Did I get work done with them? Yes... but I also get work done without either of them.

I like how you have a lot of the science information on the site that explains it. Plus the sleep mode is intriguing, as F@W says it is for focus at work and reading only (via their whitepaper https://www.focusatwill.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/White...).

I'd like to hear a third party opinion that objectively compares the science behind both of them.

Thanks for the discount, I'd probably keep using so I went ahead and paid the $25. Even though I have been burned a few times by the "for life" purchases, I don't expect it to last for more than 1 or 2 years ;)

Thank you for this, already had 3 sessions today, it's very good!

Thanks for the promo - signed up. This thread got me searching and there's a lot of good feedback around

What happened with that promo? I'd like to have it too if possible!

As the primary goal is to listen to the music, I do really appreciate the fact that the webpage stops its graphics animations when it loses the focus.

It is great to improve my focus as I am not disturbed by my waving cpu meter.

Great work, love it.

Thanks a ton!

Would appreciate a checkbox so I could disable the CPU-saturating visualization without having to hide the page.

Curious about the tech/science behind this. Is it mostly binaural beats?

Hi there, we don't use binaural beats. Or isochronic tones.

Our CTO (Adam Hewett) is the founder of Transparent Corp. His older software is used to create the vast majority of isochronic tones, and all those videos you see on youtube, etc.

Any rhythmic audio stimulus will entrain the brain. Actually, the very first research on audio brainwave stimulation used simple clicks. As another example if you had a drummer that could be precise enough, drums could also stimulate the brain.

But, neither clicks nor binaural beats nor isochronic tones sound very good. Yes, you can get used to them. Adam used them for a decade. But he spent all of that decade finding a better way.

And what he found is that if you embed rhythmic modulations into the music in a natural way - disguising it as natural vibrations or vibrato or tremolo - not only is it more pleasant, it is more effective. MUCH more effective. The intensity levels we can get using this method are much higher than what we can get with older methods and still be comfortable for the user.

So in 2005 Adam created a system that could single out instruments in a recording and add natural-sounding "vibrations". He has been perfecting it ever since.

There's a lot more to Brain.fm as well! We've perfected MIT's HRTF technology to create a kind of "3D audio". And that's the real reason we suggest using headphones for the full effect of Brain.fm. It is a vital part. We spatially place sound around you to enhance your goal (for focus it is in front of you, for sleep it mimics the rocking of a hammock, cradle, etc). And then there's the algorithmic AI-generated music. Believe it or not, all the music in Brain.fm is produced by an algorithm that Adam spent a very long time.

The benefit? Imagine a rain sound for a second. Hundreds of thousands of drops! Imagine now that each and every drop is synchronized to the purpose of the stimulation. Now imagine a symphony... That is Brain.fm.

I'll have Adam hop in the thread soon so we can answer any further questions!

Can you provide evidence of the effectiveness of your methods? Are there peer reviewed studies that sustain your statements? Spot checking the site, there isn't much convincing evidence (a double blind trial with very few subjects that you sponsored is not really convincing).

As they say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

It might be worth trying it out with an open mind, never know you might like placebo till the study arrives.

The sounds are unusually good for algo music, which typically has very poor production values.

I doubt you've perfected HRTF, because everyone has a different HRTF, so you'll always get an approximation at best.

>Imagine a rain sound for a second. Hundreds of thousands of drops! Imagine now that each and every drop is synchronized to the purpose of the stimulation. Now imagine a symphony... That is Brain.fm.

This is marketing. As a statement about technology or user benefits, it's meaningless.

To be fair, I liked the audio a lot, and it's the best algo-comp effort I've heard yet.

The literature on entrainment seems unclear. There are a few studies about binaural beats I know of. There's not a lot in mainstream neurological journals - just in a few fringey publications - although this may have changed since I last looked.

I think if you're claiming AI-created symphonies of brain stimulation you're going to have an easy sell to the New Age demo, and a very tough sell to a lot of other demos.

Hey, Adam from Brain.fm here :)

Thanks much for saying that you like the audio! You seem to be into this stuff so that's high praise.

Some clarifications:

> Imagine a rain sound... synchronized to the purpose.. marketing, benefits, etc

Sorry, you're right, that was just a miscommunication. We're all a bit stressed here - didn't expect this much attention.

So part of what we're doing in Brain.fm is using synchronized modulations (pulses of sound) to affect the brain. You're right, the literature on BWE could be better, mainly because binaural beats are so well-known, and so they keep getting studied, which is unfortunate because they're not all that effective. We don't use them at all. Northwestern actually studied a bunch of major bbeat brands and couldn't detect any effect at all (at least for delta). So when I approached my friend Giovanni with a sleep protocol he was understandably skeptical, but the results as you can see on our site, are pretty damn impressive. He's now our lead neuroscientist, but still works for Northwestern too. There's a lot more to that story but I don't want to type more of a novel than I already am :)

Actually... to be honest I'm not sure I even like the name "entrainment" - Giovanni has a better theory having to do with neuron "recruitment" that is simpler and has more explanatory power. Here's the thing: any repetitive audio stimuli produces a corresponding response in the brain, provided it is consistent enough, rapid enough, and lasts long enough. Bbeats supposedly work because of the "beat" part. But these days, we can easily create beats using all kinds of methods, like modulation, where we can adjust the waveform, adjust the phase on the fly, target frequency ranges, and so on, all of which are super important it turns out. Plus - as she mentioned - we can synchronize all the other elements in the song to the same "beat." All while monitoring the effects using an EEG.

Hope that helps clarify some things. Hey, I know it seems far out, so I'm happy to answer any questions. Giovanni will hopefully be on here tomorrow. I think a podcast, video, or something with the two of us explaining this stuff is long overdue.

Anyway, thanks again! Hope you come back and and we can talk some more about it.

>Any rhythmic audio stimulus will entrain the brain ... the very first research on audio brainwave stimulation used simple clicks.

So you're saying that minimal techno is actually good for you? I don't believe it ;)

The website is a bit vague about that, but they say it has nothing to do with binaural beats.

> How is this different from binaural beats (or similar tools)?

> Binaural beats is 1970s technology. It's akin to comparing dial up internet (binaural beats) to fiber optic internet (Brain.fm). The difference is advanced technology which equates to superior results. Gerald Oster, the original researcher of binaural beats, denied it's therapeutic use cases and endorsed other audio methods as more effective find the research paper on google. [1]

> Why are binaural beats so popular? They've been overhyped by marketers, not scientists.

[1] http://www.amadeux.net/sublimen/documenti/G.OsterAuditoryBea...

There's another method that shifts the phase of the entire spectrum instead of generating pure tones. That method has been available in software like CoolEdit (I think Adobe bought it later) since at least 1996. I wonder if that is the method used by brain.fm, but I haven't had a chance to check it out.

FYI: someone from the company just responded in a sister comment

They seem to distance themselves from binaural beat technology, in their About Us page: "Gerald Oster, the original researcher of binaural beats, denied it's therapeutic use cases and endorsed other audio methods as more effective"

$7/month doesn't seem too bad, at least to test out. I think I will give it a go for a bit.

So, tried it and was enjoying it a lot, helped me to focus writing (finally) on a particular chapter of a book I've been dreading for some reason.

So, I get in the zone and then click! internet error. Had to refresh, and now it demands I complete a survey and register... grumble grumble. :/

Cool site though, good luck.

Sorry about that! We're under heavy load right now, and there's just a few of us :)

Registration is free though! Then you get more free sessions.

I hear we're planning on creating a longer trial program soon. But until then, I hope you'll give it another try.

For the record I don't really mind if people use it incognito, BUT it will keep giving you the same sessions over and over. So you're not getting but a fraction of the experience. We just need the survey so we can better adapt to you, and for benchmarks later on. It really doesn't take long. Also if you have an account it will adapt to you using ratings and other metrics, like if you skip a song consistently, etc.

- Adam from Brain.fm

F12 -> Resources -> Cookies -> right-click brain.fm -> clear cookies

Is there any real science to this? Can someone provide legitimate references? I tried this last time it was on HN. It felt like a hoax; I was less focused because the sounds were less calming than the air conditioning in the office, and because the trial repeats after about 10 minutes.

I think maybe you were thinking of a different site link, because this is the first time we've been on HackerNews to my knowledge, and our shortest sessions are 15 minutes, and they never loop. If I'm wrong then really sorry about a bad experience, must have been a bug. Give it another shot if you have a moment :)

Lots of science to this. Here's a good start: https://www.brain.fm/pdfs/ResearchLibrary.pdf

We're still organizing it. Apologies for any inconsistencies. There's still stuff we need to add as well.

My first thought was Lumosity [1]. I'd love for these claims to be real, but I'm just not willing to believe claims like these until I see a significant result in a randomized controlled trial.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumosity#Effectiveness

We did a randomized controlled trial :)


It's pending publication, but it'll get there. And now we have enough info to start a double blind. Sleep one is also pending publication.

The HRV (stress/anxiety) trial is already published, and was completely independent. We didn't even know about it until it was published. There's more in the science section too.

I remember when that Lumosity BS came out. We'd been around for 4 years already at that point. Now that it's finally us taking off, we're pouring everything into the science. We're going to do this right.

(oh, sorry, I just realized I'd already replied to you above. I'll leave this here though, for anyone who's interested)

Hi Adam, I love that you did an RCT. What journal did this get published in?

I've been using Brain.FM since yesterday, first with speakers in another room, then with speakers in my office and separated by about 2m, and finally today with Bose noise canceling headphones (I can kind of hear the 3d effect, but it is vastly outweighed by my ears overheating in the headphones). I liked #2 the best; some tracks the 3d effect was pronounced. I tend to like the percussion tracks a lot more --- going back to the webpage to skip etc is a pain. Why not provide a list of effects that you can select from and if I hate violin (bad example) then I can exclude tracks that use it.

In the past I've used rain / thunderstorm recordings. I have a Marpac noise machine with a actual mechanical fan inside. I found that machine great for sleep - but then I had a baby and she confiscated it for her own use :-)

For the productivity obsessed on HN making negative comments, I'm surprised more haven't tried this kind of stuff out.

I have used white noise or waves for a long time to drown out outdoor noise around me.

My initial start with this kind of stuff was listening to various stations on somafm.

I like finding music that fits well in the background, isn't too engaging or something I'm familiar with, and hopefully devoid of vocals so I kept looking and came across a few instrumental tracks on itunes.

There's maybe a reason babies benefit from wave/sleep machines. White noise does have an effect that can aid in focus and concentration, science, placebo, or otherwise, I'm happy for the sustained productivity boost I've been able to have for several years.

I did buy brain.fm on a whim a while back it has replaced simplynoise or more to that point. If there was a bit more information published on how it was put together I'd be interested, and if not, I'd probably keep using it.

Would like it to be a downloadable or app that I could keep with me. Some things aren't for those who can't put themselves in other people's shoes, or imagine something may work for others that doesn't seem to be imaginable or work for them.

Also would be interested in an iOS app version of this.

iOS + Android coming very soon! Internally beta testing mobile apps now.

For now! You can visit https://brain.fm on your phone's browser (chrome, firefox) and it will work fine :)

I didn't know I could log in from my mobile browser. Hopefully the sound works in the background, thanks!

I set this to "intense focus" and the result is almost exactly the same as the opening track to Tangerine Dream's 1983 album Hyperborea, "No Man's Land". Funnily enough, I've always found that an amazing album to listen to when in need of concentration or relaxation.

I don't know why, but this makes me feel smart. Placebo++

Hey, placebo effect is good enough. The placebo effect works even if you know it's a placebo.

If you send me £30 I'll give you some of my double-strength placebo. Really powerful stuff, not available on the general market.

rather just listen to the band placebo.

3 suggestions:

"Library Background Noise for Relaxation"


"DISTANT TRAINS ECHOING IN THE RAIN.. Relaxing SoundScape to help Sleep, Study & Meditate"


"One Hour of HQ Coffee Shop Background Noise"


brain.fm is great, too!

But honestly, silence + just getting into the groove works best. Minimizing distractions is key. Unfortunately, nothing beats late nights at meeting these criteria.

Those are great!

And glad you like Brain.fm as well :)

To my great surprise, silence is actually the worst performer in our research and for other researchers I've talked to. check out our focus study, and also if you hit the "more" button you can see a kind of bibliography (that we need to organize better).

Silence can be a distraction in itself. Counter-intuitive, I know. I actually think I remember an article about this popping up in my news feed recently, trying to explain why. I was in a hurry so couldn't really read it, but I'll try to find it again after all this craziness dies down :)

But anyway, everyone's different, and different situations call for different tools. When the noise level is just too high for me (like, construction outside, vacuuming, etc) I use those crazy earmuffs meant for gun ranges. A shopvac could be right next to your ear and you wouldn't notice hah

As someone who experiences asmr I was expecting a somewhat similar experience while listening to the 'sleep' module/mode. But I don't think this does anything for me, in fact the sound set me a bit on edge for no apparent reason.

Not me, I'm listening to the Calm -> Guide Meditation one and wow is it relaxing. Not quite getting asmr symptoms, but one average I feel quite relaxed and content. I agree on the on edge quality, for me it's subtle though and probably why I'm not getting full blown asmr bliss.

Similar service which I really like (no AI, but you can calibrate the sounds to match your hearing curve) https://mynoise.net/

Brainwave entrainment is pseudoscience. The placebo effect is powerful.

Ambient sound has a tremendous capacity to alter one's mood.

Causal explanations in terms of brainwaves, etc, are invariably psuedoscience, but that does not mean that the placebo effect is the only thing going on here.

That's great, music having effects on the brain is pretty widely accepted as true ("This is your brain on music"), but claiming that playing slightly offset frequencies into different ears causes "brainwaves" to synchronize with the difference in frequencies is where a lot of people are skeptical. I've done a fair bit of dabbling in the DIY EEG realm while hacking my own sleep, so I've seen (the absence of) these effects first hand.

Now that I read their website, the authors of this new-fangled music generator are also denouncing binaural beat brainwave entrainment, which would ordinarily be the stance I'd recommend anyone take who builds such a product.

I remember BWG (Brainwave Generator), a shareware binaural beat audio synthesizer software from the 90s-00s, having "presets" for inducing such phenomena as out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams. They even extolled the weight loss and smoking cessation benefits of brainwave entrainment. That software came up every so often on the LD4ALL lucid dreaming forum.

Art Bell would be proud.

Related: http://mtcb.pwop.com/

This is by Carl Franklin of the .NET Rocks! podcast. Definitely helps me focus.

Been using Brain.fm for a few months now. Incredibly boosted performance programming on my end.

That's what we like to hear :)

- Adam from Brain.fm

I have to say, I tried this as something that has always piqued my interest - using sounds and music to make me a more efficient human. I was skeptical, I put it to the test while coding.

Within 10 minutes I felt a strange calm hum in my head and have now been using it for 2 hours with no sign of dropoff. Very cool, going to keep using. If this continues like it did tonight, I could see this becoming part of my daily work routine.

While everyone is giving their favorites I thought I would throw mine in. Two sites -- pandora.com and coffitivity.com

On pandora -- their baroque classical station

On coffitivity -- University undertones.

You have to fiddle with the volumes a bit to get them balanced, but once you do it is a great passive sound for concentration and focus.

Also a good one that I picked up from my college roommate -- drum and bass techno. Anything with lyrics gets me thinking about the lyrics.

I got intrigued by your post and I searched deeper to find tested solutions for relaxation trough music

Can anyone tell me if they tried these products: - Schumann Meditation https://www.mental-waves-for-happiness.com/product/secrets-o... - Zen meditation music https://www.mental-waves-for-happiness.com/product/secrets-o... - Mental Waves to overcome insomnia https://www.mental-waves-for-happiness.com/product/how-to-ov...

Your advices are very appreciated.

Put on intense focus and promptly fell straight to sleep at my desk.

I'm sure there are huge personal differences. I have tried a lot of different sounds until now, but I cannot imagine listening to one type of sound over a period more than two weeks.

Variety works for me and keeps me happy at work which is as important as being productive alone. Productivity will not last long without happiness.

Variety works for me.

Completely agree! Did you register for an account? If you do, it'll notice which ones you've listened to before and give you more variety. Also you can go to "Explore" and pick something you want. There's techno, classical, irish, spacey-ambient, electronic-symphonic combos, bunch of different nature sounds, indian music, mongolian chants, etc... I'll be adding a lot more music soon too. :)

We definitely need to work on the barrier-to-entry that the survey creates. Sorry about that. Working on it.

- Adam from Brain.fm

I didn't, just read about it. I will definitely give it a try when I'm back home!

So there are already tons of apps on App Store or Play store featuring auto-generated beats for working and sleeping. Is there any clinical studies saying that this service is better than any of those? If the effects are the same, why choosing this over others?

I found the intense focus music (and the "white noise"/hissing in it) to be really, really grating and kinda put me on-edge while listening.

I also found the repetitiveness/predictability of the rhythm to be troubling - I'd end up focusing on the noise and thinking about "what was coming next" to be ultra-distracting.

Kinda like when you have a noisy neighbor at night and you are just trying to get to sleep, but all you can focus on is the noise coming from your neighbor. You cant switch off - all you can do is focus on the noise.

Personally nothing beats rainymood.com for focus for me, but thanks for sharing. I guess I am different as everyone else seems to think this is effective.

Rainymood is excellent! I typically combine it with "Midnight Radio" by Bohren & Der Club of Gore - They mix perfectly.

Does this music ever repeat ? I can't tell if it is a play list of previously AI generated music or continuously novel AI generated music.

I stopped listening to focusatwill.com because the repetition was too distracting even with a paid subscription.

I have been using this the past few months, there is some repetition but not enough to notice. It seems brain.fm is keeping track of what it does and doesn't play for me and asks me for feedback if I liked a track or not.

I used focusatwill for a bit too, I liked the mobile aspect of it. brain.fm captured me as a customer with a lifetime offer.

Yeah, that's why I stopped with focusatwill.com as well. Once the same music came up 4 or 5 times it stopped working ... and so did I.

My cat is totally mesmerized by the "Intense Focus" stream. He's laying here in an absolute trance state .. haven't seen him like this.. He enjoys music a lot and often sits near the speaker and listens to music, but this stream seems to be doing something to him, because he's really tripped out :).

I also enjoy it , so you've definitely have something there.

Great stuff ! I'd really like a mac app though - maybe it's just me, but I really dislike listening to music from the browser - I like my music app to be distinct and accessible from the OS.

@Adam from Brain.fm: I could give a helping hand with the Mac app if you're interested ?

Marconi union has always worked very well for me. The weightless album in particular: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKsEqFgKhoA

been using this for months and enjoying it a lot while hacking. i definitely get into flow more quickly and stay in it more easily

Me as well. Some of the tracks (or rather the instruments that seem to show up regularly) are starting to build some muscle memory to at least trigger my brain to start focussing.

Sometimes super down,down tempo is the way to go for working: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVnLon8TvXk

I listen to soma.fm groove salad while programming. (https://somafm.com/groovesalad/)

I've discovered some great artists on there. Jens Buchert for instance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GomA...

I like beatblender or poptron depending on my mood.

Hey all! cofounder of brain.fm here.

Wowza :O

We had zero clue that we would hit front page of hn (the spike! https://imgur.com/RpUvpiH.png). Thanks for the upvote love!

Here's some deets on brain.fm:



Background music while focussing (i.e. coding, working, studying, creative work)



We actively study the relationship between music and the brain via our lead neuroscientist at Northwestern University (2 pilot studies via EEGs on brain.fm, on focus: https://goo.gl/t2qPPb, on sleep: https://goo.gl/i324Zj).

We're also working the with the Team USA Olympic wresting team (via coach Matt Lindland). Hoping to have the research case study live soon :)



"It feels like your headphones are giving you a mild dose of Ritalin."

^ Hustle (https://goo.gl/Quzwsd)

"Brain.fm has had a radical effect on my focus and mental clarity."

^ AppSumo (check out 290+ reviews https://appsumo.com/brainfm)

"One of the cool things about Brain.fm is that you can try it for a few minutes and immediately reap the benefits."

^ Product hunt (see: https://producthunt.com/tech/brain-fm + https://goo.gl/6aYiDK)

"I press play, my brain switches into super focus mode. It genuinely feels like I’ve taken a double-dose of my ADHD meds at times."

^ Smart girls with ADHD (see: https://goo.gl/VQx3XT)

Reddit discussion thread ^ see: https://reddit.com/3s0sq1



I'd like to share the hn community a '$25 for life' deal. (usually it's $149 for lifetime, $7 for monthly and yearly for $48). Link: https://brain.fm/hackernews


Happy to answer any questions!


Really like the intense focus music. Seems to work really well for me. However I am not a fan of the nature based ones. The nature sounds comes of as too artificial. I might consider buying something like this, but not sure if I think a monthly subscription is worth it. Could there be a market for making an "album" with 10 generated songs in a category?

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