How did Light and Sound Machines Originate?
This is the story of how early human awareness that outside stimulation affects brainwave activity resulted in what is now referred to as light and sound machines.
Light and sound machines being marketed today is the technological result of our awareness that outside environmental stimulation affects our mental, emotional and physical state of mind. Several thousand years ago our ancestors experienced the flickering flames of cooking fires, sensing the relaxing effects created by those soothing flames. The same can be said for drumbeats. Rhythmic drumbeats can be calming, then as the beats quicken, a more energetic sensation develops. A light and sound machine is a non-invasive method for brainwave focus training. So how did a light and sound machine grow out of this awareness?
In the mid-1920’s proof that flickering light and audio beat stimulation affected mental states occurred when a German psychiatrist, Hans Burger, developed images depicting human brainwave activity. From Hans Burger's discovery of these 'wavy' lines emerged the new scientific field of electroencephalography. The wavy-line images published by Hans Burger are easy to visualize. Imagine you are looking out over a mountain range with various peaks and valleys. Scrunch that skyline together, do some mental magic as you see little separation between the highest and lowest levels. That image is what human brainwaves look like when in our everyday waking state: the Beta brainwave frequency state. As you gradually relax, like when experiencing an Alpha program on a light and sound machine, that skyline image begins to transform. The wavy lines of our brainwaves become further apart or separated, more distinct. Then as we enter sleep, slipping through the Theta brainwave state and into Delta, our sleep state, those brainwave lines show peaks and valleys at their highest and lowest points. Over the next few years we saw the electroencephalography field explode as researchers, including W. Gray Walter, combined electronic light strobes with electroencephalograph (EEG) machines. In 1949 the Tuposcope was introduced. This marked the first time EEG researchers could track Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta brainwave frequency patterns, enabling hospitals to compile patient EEG's. By 1955 hundreds of hospitals became involved with electroencephalography.
Equipped with the ability to observe human brainwave patterns, several researchers in the late 50's and early 60's began to study Zen and Yoga meditative practices. During Zen and Yoga meditative sessions researchers realized the practitioners were capable of accessing both alpha and theta brainwave states. The results of these studies were made available by researchers M.A. Wanger of the University of California at Los Angeles; B.K. Bagchi of the University of Michigan School of Medicine; and B.K. Anand of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. The non-chemical use of producing altered states soon followed with Alpha EEG feedback researchers like Dr. Joe Kamiya of Langley-Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in San Francisco being credited for initiating the biofeedback age. Left and right hemispheric brain synchronization, brainwave hemispheric crosstalk, pulsed light and sound stimulation and EEG training protocols continued to be investigated by such researchers as Jack Schwarz and Richard Townsend. In 1974 the first patent for a light and sound machine was granted. The patent-holder, Seymour Charas, was a New York City College scientist. He never did produce his light and sound machine on a mass scale.
In the 1980’s microelectronics went through major changes as electronic devices were becoming smaller and more readily available. Machines containing programs generating light and sound frequencies began to appear among researchers. Marchal Gilula, M.D., of Life Energies Research Institute of Coconut Grove, Florida, conducted a clinical research study on Multiple Afferent Sensory Stimulation (MASS). This study showed that light and sound (MASS) instrumentation caused an 80% subject response of achieving deep sensations of complete mind and body relaxation.
Then came mass production of light and sound machines, available to the general public, and the publicized success of those that use a light and sound machine acquiring deep states of relaxation through brainwave focus. A light and sound machine is a competitive edge in sports for peak competitive performance, in academics for learning and assimilating new information, in business for creativity, mental clarity and insight, and for everyday people just trying to make a good thing better.