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Scientists say a mind-bending rhythm in the brain can act like ketamine (npr.org)
324 points by pseudolus on Sept 17, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 142 comments

I’ve studied Afro-Cuban percussion for 28 years now and I can tell you from experience there are some bata rhythms that definitely make the listener enter into a heavy trance state. Haitian vodun drumming is especially designed for generating trance and out of body experiences in its entirety. If you can find an old recording of Haitian voodoo drums give it a listen using good headphones with your eyes closed, and after about twenty minutes you will enter an altered state.

It would be great if you could link to a recording that you think could induce this state, given that you’re an expert in this field! If I’m left to search on my own I’m not sure I’ll find the correct recording.

+1 and why must it be an "old recording" - have modern Haitian voodoo drummers lost the way? Seems a bit set-up for shifting goalposts...

if you have perfection in a product, the only evolution possible is for it to become less perfect.

People being people the best are not content with always doing the same thing, so they will experiment and move away, following other influences. The drumming may become great in other ways but not great in the way of inducing trance states the way it once way.

Just my theory on why it might be that an old recording is better for inducing trance than a newer one might be.

Your point is technically correct, but it seems a bit preposterous to say that the old drumming music was flawless perfection in introducing these sort of effects, to the point where any change would by definition be a determent. How would you know that? How would anybody know that?

yeah, I wouldn't know, but if the old recordings seem better for inducing trance and the newer not I offer an explanation why that could be without the newer generation of Haitian voodoo drummers necessarily having to be worse drummers.


This is from the 50s-60s.

So should I get in a trance state listening to this?

After four minutes? I doubt it.

In my experience with trying to meditate to rhythms it takes fifteen minutes to half an hour before you really notice a significant difference to meditation without it.

Also, "should" is not really the right word to use here - I would go with "might".

What I mean with that is that this isn't like a pill whose are chemicals will do its on their own after consumption, with or without thinking about them. It's an effect that is produced through a sensory interaction with the brain. As a result, how one consciously attends to that interaction has a huge impact on the effectiveness.

Pretty great, but that poor chicken.

Probably new regulations.

It became much harder to find the psychoactive stuff once they were classified as Schedule 1 rhythms.

That would be a great name for a band.

Try this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxboZrFcvRo&

Give it your entire attention.

I did not give it my entire attention, I'll do that later.

But I will say this is just genuinely good music.

very good music, thanks!

If we're talking drum-based drone ambient, there's Man Forever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1b6chDYxK4

I’ve been experimenting with this myself and this video https://youtu.be/BwqH7l9xSgo along with some breathwork does seem to work.

can you describe this "breathework"? So we can determine if mild asphyxia can be ruled out.

I advice people to take it slow and stop if uncomfortable. Whether it’s involved or not it works.

Not OP but Smithsonian Folkways record label would be, in my mind, the best online source for such recordings. For example:



There was an interesting section in Michael Pollan's book "How to Change Your Mind" about combining breathwork with drumming. It seems with the right setup that you can induce certain altered states of consciousness that are pretty equivalent to certain psychedelics.

I'm definitely interested in seeing what can be done to without the aid of drugs. As someone who had some bad trips that gave me 6 months of anxiety, a non drug induced altered state sounds preferable.

That being said, even something as seemingly benign as meditation can lead to intensely challenging experiences in certain situations. But overall, not relying on drugs seems generally safer.

I'm considering trying LSD soon for its therapeutic potential and am concerned about anxiety as an input and output of tripping, as it were. Would you be open to sharing your experience with me? Sorry if that's out of line.

Like most psychedelics, LSD gives you back what you put into it. It, especially, though, is not an on/off switch like most of reddit's crowd would have you believe.

I have had generalized anxiety, and some other acute anxiety issues for about 30 years now. I experimented with LSD among many other psychedelics through my 20's and 30's.

For LSD, to avoid a bad trip, you need a good road map. I would advise some counseling to identify your personal problems with an impartial third party, beforehand. Naming your issues will help you to identify if you are spiraling into them. Second, take it in a comfortable setting, surrounded by things that are important to you. Music helps immensely, but focus on something without too much of a political/social/religious message, just in case. Having a trip sitter who has experience with psychedelics cannot be stressed enough. Having someone clear headed to keep you focused on your good feelings is really helpful.

Also, if you are concerned about an anxiety response before taking it, you will experience anxiety. Your mind is a wonderful tool, in that, it is almost constantly making your experience self-fulfilling prophecies.

The only other note I would add is, if you do experience anxiety, or a bad trip, take notes. Generally, the things you experience are based on your life's "pinch points" and are the things that are bothering you deep down.

For me, I experienced severe anxiety spirals regarding whether or not my friends were really my friends, and whether or not I was a good spouse and parent. When I finally started writing down my spirals, and evaluating them for themes later, I realized that I was trying to tell myself to be less distracted, less selfish, more giving, more caring, and more present for the people around me. Oh, and to do the damned dishes every now and again.

I took too much and didn't have the relevant experience.

If you take a low dose and follow harm reduction practices you should be fine. Just make sure you do your research ahead of time, and go in knowing the risks. If you have underlying mental health issues, then be careful, and maybe consider alternatives that don't require drugs.

Personally I think you should consider other things before you go down the road of LSD. Improvisation (in particular), psychotherapy, meditation, dance/sports classes, art are all worth going through first, particularly if you are under 25 (still a fair of brain re-wiring going on up to this age, and further its life long in a limited way).

LSD / Weed can induce severe nasty reactions in people and no one quite knows why. I do find the "you have to be prepared to face the truth" mentality of some people who take drugs to be a bit dangerous. (Note: I experimented with pretty much every drug before so I'm aware of the effects).

I highly recommend The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert.

"The authors discuss the Tibetan Book of the Dead and use the process of death and rebirth presented in it as a metaphor for the experience of ego death or depersonalization that is commonly experienced under the influence of psychedelic drugs. Similar to how the intended function of the Tibetan Book of the Dead is to be used as a guide for death and rebirth, The Psychedelic Experience is meant to be used as a guide on how to properly handle experiences of ego death while undergoing the psychedelic experience

The book discusses the various phases of ego death that can occur on psychedelics and gives specific instructions on how one should regard them and act during each of these different phases. In addition to containing more general advice for the readers on how to use psychedelics, the book also includes selections of writing presented with the intent for them to be read aloud during events where groups of people take psychedelic drugs together".*

The recommendations in the book can be adapted to work with one other individual, someone who has experience with the different possible states that might be encountered through the trip.

Your state of mind, and the surrounding environment are crucial to realizing an optimal experience. If you go into a psychedelic experience with a lot of anxiety over having a "bad trip", it can end up being a self fulfilling influence.

Following the guidance in this book requires a mindful preparation, often spread out over a few weeks. I think this level of intent is helpful in raising up the overall experience.

"This manual is divided into four parts. The first part is introductory. The second is a step-by-step description of a psychedelic experience based directly on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The third part contains practical suggestions on how to prepare for and conduct a psychedelic session.

The fourth part contains instructive passages adapted from the Bardo Thodol, which may be read to the voyager during this session, to facilitate the movement of consciousness."

Here’s an audio recording of the authors reading from the book:


The book is available as a free pdf on Timothy Leary's website:


Start low, first dose should probably be not over 100ug, if you have anxiety you should go for more like 75 (maybe 50). After having experience with that state of mind you can go higher. (Wait at least for 2 weeks between doses)

as long as on your first time you start with a low dose, in a safe, familiar setting with people you trust, you'll thoroughly enjoy your experience. I would not recommend smoking weed at all.

I've found there are certain Tool songs (46 & 2, Lateralus) that it's not a good idea to listen to when doing something that requires focus (like riding my motorcycle), they make me get lost and zone out far faster.

On the other hand when trying to calm my mind after a busy day there is nothing better.

I really like Tool but never get that...unfortunately :)

Maybe try "We Are" on Asymmetry by Karnivool as well. I find the drums quite mesmerising, i've heard it's not quite as complex as it sounds.

I frickin love that album

I read this comment whilst listening to Forty Six & 2 thinking the exact same thing!

In fact, that's often why I listen to Tool!

>> find an old recording of Haitian voodoo drums give it a listen using good headphones with your eyes closed, and after about twenty minutes you will enter an altered state

I followed your trance recipe to the letter and soon entered a state of mind that on this day was novel to me. It seriously made me happy to be alive and to be human. However, that feeling didn't linger. Now I'm back to my usual miserable self, a blob of cells that all try but mostly they fail to communicate with each other in a way that is pleasant for the vessel, me. I don't think I was in a trance. Perhaps I should have danced.

I'm very intrigued, though, by the idea of rhythm being a protagonist ingredient of "flow". I'm a programmer, musician only by heart, but on Wednesdays instead of instruments I play the rhythmic game of tennis. One time me and my brother, two racket-throwing outwards-acting tennis brats in need of anger management therapy both entered "flow" at the same time and it lasted a good hour and a half. In the middle of our match a large group of youngsters, perhaps thirty individuals, entered the yard and became our audience. They started to discuss our game. They correctly dismissed us as being "not top notch". They chit-chatted. They said this and that. They were merely meters away from us but acted like they were watching TV and that e could not possibly hear them. After the game we both said: were you ever bothered by the ruckus? We concluded that no, we weren't but that we could still paraphrase almost all of the comments we've heard from the audience. But during the game it seemed to us that nothing could get us out of the state of flow. In fact, neither of us understood we were in the flow state until the ruckus began.

This was an out-of-mind, out-of-body and out-of-this-world experience for me that I have not been able to reproduce since. I was untouchable and I loved it.

do you have the link of the music ?

This was a GPT3 response.

I keep seeing comments like this. I don't really get it. Is it snark? Is it assumption? Do you actually happen to know?

Is it? It's super convincing if it is. No weird artifacts or phrases.

how do you know

In addition to the comments/links:

Regarding music and the mind, the synchronisation/entrainment method of audio driving/sonic driving has been addressed in the book 'Music, Science and the Rhythmic Mind' by Berger and Turow. Research that looks at aligning not just the rate (tempo) of the music to brainwaves, but varieties of rhythm has been done by Jeff Strong, founder of Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention (some of his YouTube videos talk about specifics). Jeff has studies Vodou music AFAIK.

Regarding altering states of mind through meditation, Jeff Tarrent's NeuroMeditation Institute has some interesting work and regarding altering states with psychedelics, the work of Andrew Gallimore's (Alien Insect's) work is also very interesting. Andrew in his YouTube video series talks about how connections in the brain change when exposed to psychedelics - I would be interested to see correlation between the way 'trance' music (without drugs) and 'psychedelics' (drugs:) create these states.

Some of our work:



Bit of an aside but various states consciousness has always been front of mind in certain regards with Haitian culture.

Zombie-mania has been in the US for a while now, but in Haiti it, at least in part, originally referred to when you zone out going through rote day-to-day actions without thinking.

Can’t remember where you parked your car? You were a zombie when you did it.

Etymologically it’s interesting as well, to be taken (literally “mounted”) by a lwa or spirit.

Fascinating. It sounds like the exact opposite of "mindfulness".

And interestingly, sounds pretty similar to the 'state of flow' that we also find so valuable.

It could be more nuanced than that. In zombie-like states it looks like System 1 takes over and you just do basic activities without really being present in them. In the "flow" state you need to actively engage System 2, although at the same time you tend to reduce the amount of external stimuli to focus on the action at hand.

I think it's different in that in a state of flow, you are intensely focused on whatever it is you're doing, and are able to maintain that focus without struggle.

In a "zombie" state, you may not really be focusing on anything at all, least of all what you're doing.

>Can’t remember where you parked your car? You were a zombie when you did it.

Usually that happens when I'm thinking about something else. Also, the visual input walking away from your care is totally different from the scene you see walking towards your car.

there's also that whole fraud-by-scopolamine tradition in haiti that contributes to zombi-mania....

This has turned into a music recommendation thread, apparently.

From a different side of the world, Wardruna has a few 'trancey' tracks; here's one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F67VZblDrQg

Wow, I'm totally hearing Krigsgaldr (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRg_8NNPTD8) in this, who inspired who?

Welp, left this tab on the add-comment page while getting thoroughly distracted over on YouTube.

Beat me by 38 minutes :D

The experimental filmmaker Maya Deren made a short film in Haiti about some Vodoun ceremonies (and was an initiate herself). I haven’t seen it since I was around college aged, so I don’t recall what the narration was like (i.e. was it maybe exoticising), but I do remember the footage being great.

Here’s an article that came up when searching for it with a link to the video, which gives some context: https://www.wilderutopia.com/performance/film/maya-deren-div...

It also is on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4cusCpzg6tY

Everyone is talking about music yet the “rhythm” in the article has nothing to do with music.

Rhythm IS music

Can certain music reliably create the 3/s firing of neurons in this specific area of the brain?

I'm a musician, but I don't see why the answer is obviously a "yes".

I don't know. I responded to the claim it had nothing to do with music.

Brazilian Candomblé ritual music may have the same effect. For those who want to try: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0ZBZI5pSOg

interesting you bring this up as it shares many roots with the Afro-Cuban diasporic music associated with bata drumming

Yeah they are both rooted in the music brought by the African diaspora. You will find this all throughout Central and Latin America, although with some variations in rhythms and instruments used.

I feel like with this music it's hard to separate the dance, song, and religious context. Have you experienced trance states in the sense that practioners do with Orishas embodying participants, or do you mean something else by "trance?"

I think it's also interesting you indicate listeners, rather than the drummers getting into that state - my memories of learning bata drumming are largely of going into a hyper-focused state that I wouldn't describe as trancelike, but also very different than the mindset I was in playing something like orchestral music.

Try "Disposition, Reflection, Triad" by Tool :) Truly an experience

Awesome. There are plenty of modern forms of music / rhythms indented to induce trance as well. Disco four on the floor and Techno come to mind.

Woah woah woah you can’t just offer ketamine to people! Think of the children!

Edit: This comment is intended to contribute to the discussion as well as be in jest. It’s a legitimate issue: if music can have drug-like effects, should some music be classed as a drug and controlled as such?

If you are looking to compare music to drugs you are operating in a space where you need also need to consider if drugs are treated like they should be. You probably should not treat music as drugs are treated because our treatment of drugs is wrong.

Go on, try it... first one's free

It being the case that drug legislation is already a pile of shit and demonstrably not in the advantage of actual people, why would we make other things legislated just as poorly?

Could you recommend any artists or albums? Love this stuff!

Abbilona has recorded a lot of these sacred Afro-Cuban "liturgies"


Give me my free drugs

This would be a workable explanation for being able to "soul travel" while meditating. When I did the whole Trancendental Meditation thing back in the late 70's it was all about clearing your mind of everything except a repeating mantra. EEG's of people meditating show rhythmic brain activity typical of sleeping.

If that is the case (and I'm not saying it is, just noting the potential path here) then it would suggest you could use a biofeedback system to tune the rhythm of your thinking to achieve this state without drugs.

I’m curious why you stopped doing Transcendental Meditation? And do you do any other alternative / mind altering processes now?

As someone very interested in Transcendental Meditation but unsure where to begin, any pointers?

I still meditate, it helps clear my mind. What I didn't do is buy into the whole program with its seminars and retreats etc.

When I was very much younger I was really curious about the claims of "mind over matter" types who claimed that the laws of physics could be changed to suit one's desires. A friend of mine had done the TM thing and she was enthusiastic and helped fund the intro / level 1 class for me (it was like $100 at the time and I considered that a LOT of money).

For me, the primary benefit of meditation is to quiet all of the 'noise' in my head[1]. Some of my best engineering designs have emerged after spending a couple of days alternately meditating and reading.

[1] Apparently some people don't have an inner dialog going on in their head, others are like me with a entire congress of competing dialogs all trying to be heard :-)

AFAICT it is a mantra based meditation. All you have to do is hand over all your money to a guru and they will give you some arbitrary mantra with which you meditate with, repeating the single phrase under your breath. IANATMG but I think the mantra should have little personal value; it is used as an exercise, presumably to do with the breath, rather than a personal philosophy type mantra.

Yeah, it's a payment based system, for better or worse. Need to pay a teacher.

Music is probably another route.

What is "soul travel"?

Also known as "Astral Projection", "Mind Walking", and "Spirit Walking" it is described as "Stepping out of your corporeal body and moving around the world."

I've never accomplished this while meditating (and I'm not the type to experiment with drugs) but I did have this type of experience while volunteering as a test subject for a sensory deprivation experiment at UNLV. In that experience I got out of the tank (without opening it which was weird), walked out of the lab and got in my car (again by just sort of being outside of my car and then inside the car). I was thinking about how I could start the car without my keys when I realized I was completely naked and in that realization the experience stopped and I was back in the tank.

People are known to hallucinate in such tanks, it is expected, I found the experience very unlike dreaming and much more like I was more literally conscious the entire time.

Likely referring to astral projection.

Having not yet read the article I hope this is still relevant - for people who like music you can really lose yourself in ("trance inducing" is a bit cringey ...), check out Nusrath Fateh Ali Kahn. One of his most famous songs linked below but obviously his repertoire is huge and easy to find.


From Wikipedia: a Pakistani vocalist, musician and music director primarily a singer of Qawwali, a form of Sufi Islamic devotional music. Widely considered one of the greatest voices ever recorded, he possessed an extraordinary range of vocal abilities and could perform at a high level of intensity for several hours.

These performances, in tents with everyone sitting on the floor and sometimes smoking copious amounts of hash in chillums is something I wish I could have attended.

A legend. His core stuff is very powerful and his voice is up there.

Going slightly tangential: There was a Bollywood song he did with Shreya Ghoshal (an angel in her own right). I kept listening to that song repeatedly for some reason; often on repeat. A month or two later I decided I had to wean myself off it - I actually felt it was affecting me in some way and I was not sure it was good or bad. Recently I came across another song which ended up on loop and I had to stop listening to. Not as powerful as the first. Early on, I did look at the singers - they were the same two. So perhaps it was not a trance state - just a combination of singers that appealed to my senses. Those two have my number. I know I listen to it at a reduced level of comprehension since I know very little Urdu/Hindi; so I rely entirely on the audio aspect with little brain devoted to language comprehension.

Which songs are you talking about? I would like to listen to them.

1 and 2 on this playlist[1] respectively. Warning: this is normal Bollywood stuff that hit a chord with me. This is not some ancient rhythmic single instrument sound that other links point to.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDetc8-f-F8

This reminds me of the neuro-linguistic virus in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. 'Snow Crash' in the novel refers to a version of the virus encoded in a bitmap image which can cause hackers (who are used to processing information in binary form) to suffer brain damage.

To say nothing of the "Drummers" from Diamond Age (loosely, a cult of people who spend years at a time entranced and drumming in unison).

This does seem to be a persistent theme in Stephenson's book. I just remembered that in Anathem, Fraa Jad (the Millenarian monk that accompanies Erasmus) perform a similar sort of mediation with long, deep chanting. I don't have the book at hand, but as I recall, Erasmus thinks it's Fraa Jad's way of manipulating his mind.

From an old documentary I watched early '00s (no idea what it was called), there was a musician that claimed music with a BPM between 135-140BPM and a 16th note bass line was in a frequency range that made it very easy for the human brain to sync up to it. Something about being very close to the Theta wave (or which ever brain wave, it's been a long time since I've seen it). This would result in a dance floor full of people who were all on the same wavelength. I'm sure it didn't hurt if they were all on some form of psychedelic as well. If the BPM was too high or too low, then it was harder for the brain to latch on. This was an old Goa/Psytrance artist, so that trance state was kind of the point of the music.

Reminds me of "Human Time" 94-96BPM


> JAD: Because if we're unconsciously speeding up slow beats and slowing down fast beats, well, there's got to be ...

MATTHEW GUERRIERI: Some particular point ...

JAD: ... right in the middle ...

MATTHEW GUERRIERI: ... where our judgment of time actually syncs up with actual time.

JAD: Where in other words, we guess the tempo correctly.

MATTHEW GUERRIERI: Yeah, and it's called the indifference point.

JAD: I don't know why it's called that, but according to most research that point falls somewhere around this tempo.

MATTHEW GUERRIERI: 94, 96 beats per minute.

JAD: If you give people four beats of this tempo and then ask them to guess the fifth, they usually get it right.


JAD: That's human time.

I thoroughly enjoyed that, in particular I was delighted by the push-the-tempo Beethoven renditions. Really shreds. I can definitely get behind the theory that Beethoven wanted that feeling of making the audience, and performers, uncomfortable.

I think people also tend to misjudge tempo depending on the content of the music (also discussed in my link above)

I too have heard this but looking at brain waves on wikipedia:

    Delta wave – (0.5 – 3 Hz)
    Theta wave – (4 – 7 Hz)
    Alpha wave – (7 – 15 Hz)
    Mu wave – (7.5 – 12.5 Hz)
    SMR wave – (12.5 – 15.5 Hz)
    Beta wave – (15 – 30 Hz)
    Gamma wave – (>30 Hz)
Based on the wide frequency range on any of those it's hard to justify a range as tight as 135-140BPM, "137 heaven" notwithstanding

There's definitely some interesting cognitive science in what makes a good tune though. I sketched out some informal ideas here https://omnisplore.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/kolmogorov-compl...

I used to write the odd bit of psytrance back when I had enough time in my life, hope it's not too rude to link some here :) https://oscillicraft.bandcamp.com/album/dreampsyker

Look into hemisync/holosync/binaural beats. They create a beat in the music by pulsing a tiny delay between left and right channel. That pulse was shown to bring the brain wave frequence in sync with itself. I find the effect easy to discern when listening in a way where the two channels are clearly separated (as when via headphones).

I like the psytrance you created. Saved for later.

I've heard this story repeated a million times on Goa/Psytrance events. So I guess he - or his statement - is kind of a legend now.

It's quite the leap going from brain rhythms mentioned in the research to anecdotal talk of audio drum rhythms isn't it? There's no mention of audio in that article. Brain rhythms in this context simply mean patterns of neural activity. this activity happens all the time, even in people who are profoundly deaf.

Indeed, the induced rhythms in the article are stimulated by shining light on the brain of mice to induce certain cells to fire, and electrical impulses on a human subject.

Nothing at all to do with music or the auditory system.

It does make me wonder if a binocular affect similar to a binaural affect would induce would do it. The ocular pathways are significant...

I'm surprised I had to scroll down this far to see this. The threads listed above this are all about music and sound, which don't have anything to do with the article.

Yes. Why is everyone here talking about music? This has nothing to do with that.

This reminds me of the binaural beat technique (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemi-Sync) that the Monroe Institute has been claiming for decades is a way to induce out of body like experiences.

That brings me back. I played around with Hemi-Sync stuff back in 2007 during my freshman year of college. I never got much out of it, and determined it was bullshit.

13 years later, I'm probably somewhat more open to the idea, after spending a decent amount of time meditating and experimenting with a few psychedelics. (Not in a mystical sense, just in a "maybe sound can help induce certain altered states of consciousness".)

Now that I have some meditation experience I kind of want to go back and experiment with binaural beats again.

I had some pretty interesting experiences with i-doser around that time.

A lot were fairly humdrum but there was this one time that was incredibly intense and it made me feel as if I had died. I was afraid of ever doing that one again. It left a lasting impression on me that entrainment definitely is a thing.

I must revisit that and have another go.

Might be fun for you to check out what https://www.brain.fm/science is doing, which takes an alternative approach focusing on generating rhythm and tone tracks that, for lack of a more detailed term 'lull' your brain into focused or relaxed states. I get a lot of mileage out of it when working, don't often use it for relaxation because I find simple nature tracks better for doing standing meditation.

> Before the advent of the pharmacological revolution, it was widely understood that brain activity depends on both chemical and electrical signals. The subsequent dominance of pharmacology almost obliterated interest in the electrophysiology of the brain for several decates.

From The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D., in a section about "Applied Neuroscience" as it pertains to resolving trauma. It seems that the wave properties of the brain have been under-valued since psychopharmacology really took off in the 70s.

It depends on what milieu you mix in. Some neuroscientists study electrophysiology of the brain in primary terms.

Evolutionary biologists see both systems as inextricably linked. The Schwann cells that encase axons to provide myelinated insulation are separated by gaps in which ion channels gate the charged fluid flow which propagates electrical activity like a mexican wave in a football crowd.

Possibly related to "brainwave entrainment".

> Brainwave entrainment, also referred to as brainwave synchronization and neural entrainment, refers to the hypothesized capacity of the brain to naturally synchronize its brainwave frequencies with the rhythm of periodic external stimuli, most commonly auditory, visual, or tactile.

> It is believed that patterns of neural firing, measured in Hz, correspond with states of alertness such as focused attention, deep sleep, etc. It is hypothesized that by listening to these beats of certain frequencies one can induce a desired state of consciousness.


I am not surprised. I may be speaking from ignorance but this seems to be at the center of a lot of spiritual experience. In south India, during village festivals (which are closer to folk religion rather than mainstream Hinduism) there is an event where devotees play music to encourage Goddess descend on an individual and the person eventually acts as if that Goddess has descended and he or she is possessed by the spirits. Sometimes more than one person would act in this way. I never believed this to be real, I thought that the individuals were obviously faking it.

Once I got a chance to visit an interior south Indian village and experience this firsthand. Having been there, I don't think all of it is intentional faking. The whole atmosphere, the music with its drum rhythms (Udukkai) and a raising crescendo are all designed to put a person into a sort of reverential trance. Even for me, it was a feeling unlike anything I experienced before. It is quite possible that brought up on that folklore and more sensitive to such triggers would experience an extra-corporeal sensation (like the one described in the article) and attribute it to divine presence. And at the culmination of event, when goddess is said to leave the body, the possessed person often faints after an epileptic fit. This was also mentioned in the report. To me, this is neurological programming perfected over generations... but to what avail I don't know.

I've experienced and seen this too. I agree, the sensation is probably induced and probably also was used (in the past) as a way to air out grievances anyone might have over other, the type of grievance that would usually be considered too trivial for a local panchayat or law centric solutions.

I don't know how common this is but they could also be using bhang?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optogenetics - "Biological technique that involves the use of light to control neurons that have been genetically modified to express light-sensitive ion channels. "

Pic - https://www2.technologyreview.com/player/07/03/Mice/images/1...

Immediately made me think of: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/articles/bring...

Too long; didn't listen: same thing but related to Alzheimer's disease research where scientists would induce some frequency in the brain of mice and humans to help clean up some "gunk" in the brain that's associated with the disease.

I got interested in this and related research back in 2016 when I heard that Radiolab episode, and then went on to seek out 40 Hz tones on youtube, of which there are a great variety (other useful search terms are "Gamma", "Rife" and "Delta" tones), some "pure" and others with music underlying them or mixed with some other tones. I just sought out the "pure" ones, and sampled them for a while...

None of them seemed to do anything perceptable to me, except one...[1] (ignore the cheesy visuals and just listen to the sound). It made me feel indescribably weird, and I couldn't stand listening to it for long out of concern about what it might be doing to me.

This kind of experimentation has a lot of potential, but kind of like experimenting with newly designed drugs with which humans have had virtually no experience, it might be dangerous as the effects on the human brain are unknown.

Caveat emptor.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-eTVW8VMRQ

That was interesting. I felt like my face and head were ‘buzzing’/throbbing and I didn’t particularly enjoy it. It does seem to have some kind of effect outside of what I normally associate with an emotional response to sound/music. It’s kind of like a cat purring, as other commentators on YT said.

Feels like I’m getting very slight muscle spasms in my face, especially, but also all the way down to my forearms.

Six minutes in and nothing for me, for what it's worth. Thanks for sharing though.

Use headphones and turn the volume up... I didn’t notice anything either until I did that and then I noticed the slight jitters down my arms. Very odd (ymmv)

Here's a thread with more detail about the data in the study: https://twitter.com/ikauvar/status/1306266124313653249

> The research appears to explain how mammal brains are able to temporarily decouple mind and body – though it's still not clear why they have this ability.

Ancient mammals had access to natural drugs and, with drugs being drugs, used them. What may have started as a small upper eventually became a dissociation, as we sought more and more of the stuff. Fixing your life purpose in the process, to benefit the species, is certainly something that evolution may have selected.

I'm an avid listener of the ambient/noise/experimental genres and have experienced a "trace-like" state on a few occasions; I've always attributed this to the repetitive characteristic(s) of the song in question.

examples that come to mind:

Zoviet France - Cycloptic Sub Alien: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVz2qCvjPDg

Zoviet France - Mohnomishe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsBD-pUO4GI

Laraaji - The Dance #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hes0hRY9v8

Another famous recording which for me induces a dissociative state:

Sitting In a Room - Alvin Lucier https://youtu.be/bhtO4DsSazc

dissociative state is certainly a better descriptor and more appropriate than trace-like. a prolonged hypnagogic state has occurred on on several occasions as well.

After declining the trackme consent, the NPR shows a text-only version at https://text.npr.org/s.php?sId=913565163

With reader mode turned on that's all I need, thank you!

Interesting. I don't know the name of the song, but have often visited this video simply to listen to the drumming. It seems mood-boosting - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atkp8mklOh0. In the comments people way things like, "this is so calming", "why do I keep watching this?" Will explore some of the other links here with the addition of meditative breathing.

Give it a minute and some decent headphones...


Some steady rhythms sometimes seem to put me in a strangely dissociated state of mind.Mind you, I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy as a child, and while I haven't been on any meds for close to 30 years now, with no real issues, that's definitely an underlying condition.

I feel it as a kind of time discontinuity, as if parts of my experience were running at different speeds. It's not very pleasant, but also not overpowering. Pretty rare, these days.

I've been using brain.fm to alter my mental states somewhat. It's not a dissociative effect, but the meditation tracks do seem to induce a bit of a trance.

In a similar vein, instead of digressing into music, Apollo Neuro and others have recently popped up with wearables that claim to affect mood/focus/etc. by generating rhythmic tactile pulses. Still skeptical, but it doesn't seem as completely snake-oily as a lot of other stuff out there either.

A ketamine IV is one of the few things [1] that can stop a cortical spreading depression. Makes me wonder whether these rhythms might potentially be beneficial to people with CSD (e.g. during migraine auras).

[1] Well, the only thing I know of, but I'm mostly ignorant on the subject

I always thought that there is a specific cadence or rhythm to the human mind and I would create some music (or sequence of tones) that would get people addicted and I would sell it on a per-listen basis and make trillions.

Good luck with that. It didn't work out so well for the creator in Arthur C. Clarke's "The Ultimate Melody".


Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest discusses this, only it's a film.

It's the 'motif of harmful sensation' trope.

I get my kicks from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSttPLaTx_M Ina-gadda-da-vida

Is this the same as rhythm produced by meditating? I can on demand induce disassociation by meditation, and I’m sure it’s a commonly known phenomenon

Could this be explained by the photo electric effect? I mean beaming energy through brain cells until the mouse has brain damage might be a better explanation for sudden loss of mental function.

This immediately reminded me of Ghost in the Shell. It seems like this is something that could be used as a weapon. If so, I hope it's being properly protected. You used to have to have a pacemaker or epilepsly, but now everyone is vulnerable to hacking?

Well, it does require electrodes to be implanted in the brain...

The body is basically zillions of electrodes wired to the brain. If we discover the patterns we could -in principle- induce them through vision, hearing or skin pulses. Binaural beats (aka "computer drugs") also come to mind.

After extensive testing of binaural beats over the years, I've concluded that, for me, they do basically nothing. Maybe some people's brains are more susceptible to outside influence though.

How did you come to this conclusion and what were you looking for?

not the same, brains are not a computer, you do not upload the beat to them.

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