How far behind is Science?

One of my goals has been to maneuver myself to somewhere near the leading edge of AVS/entrainment.

I’ve found myself in a very peculiar position. I have absolutely no idea who or what is at the leading edge.

There are things on my workbench that I know have not been made public by anyone. I have done EEG trials unlike any other I can find reference to, and drawn conclusions that I have seen drawn by no-one else.

This, it would seem, places me in good company. There’s a good number people documenting doings previously un-documented – sometimes a product even gets to market!

Trouble is, all this wonderful work is being done with virtually no independent science.

I was just catching up on some podcasts and suchlike, supposedly dealing with current thinking on mind, brain, stimulus, response sort-of-stuff. Most of the interviewees had a reasonably relevant PhD or two, and most were promoting a new book. While it was the first time I had encountered a published opinion on some things, I was astonished at just how pedestrian the research is – finally statistical science has confirmed things that were being observed anecdotally and in enthusiast literature five years ago, or someone has just done a formal experiment to validate a long-standing practice.

Maybe in a few years we’ll have learned treatises on the merits (or otherwise) of audiovisual stimulus/entrainment, but right now, the Professors who will give these opinions are still on the way to their first degree.

In the meantime, I’d like to address the full range of variants on “Does ‘it’ work?”, where ‘it’ is any piece of audiovisual stimulus/entrainment hardware, software or media, with a very curious statement… Yes, there is someone, somewhere, who has derived satisfaction from ‘it’. In some cases there may be a number of properly documented someones. I have seen almost nothing published by wholly disinterested parties with respect to ‘it’ over the broad spectrum of applications to which ‘it’ is being put.

An important distinction needs to be made here between tools and media. Any pre-formed audiovisual content, be it CD tracks, preset software sessions, mix-n-match ambience/beat apps, or scientific protocols, is subject to aesthetics – whether it is technically sound in terms of stimulus or not, a surprising part of perceived effectiveness arises from “how it sounds” and the expectations formed prior to the trial. A tool is a thing to create form – function over form. A tool is useful or it is not. Some tools are useful off the shelf. Some require learning and practice. Some require an “X” factor that distinguishes the true artisan. Tools are very useful for building home science experiments.

AVS content creation has turned out, for me, to be an artistic expression that freely admits my technical curiosity. When I’m working with Mind Workstation I feel as though I am sculpting – making a small or dramatic alteration, then standing back (lying down) to see, hear and feel how that feature now sits in the overall pattern. Herein lies another discovery – that I can gain immense pleasure from two forms of AVS use – commitment to the session intent, or reveling in complex patterns of sound and light, contemplating the physiological and psychological implications of different sounds and sequences. So sometimes I get to feel like a scientist, finding novel ways to elicit, measure and interpret responses.

Well, I don’t have an answer to the title question, but I do know that the most interesting work in the field of AVS is being done by enthusiasts, not scientists. I’m personally satisfied that there enough demonstrable relationship between cause and effect to justify AVS as “scientifically sound”. I’ve built my conception of how it all works on the basis of published work, and it’s holding together just fine. Most of the traditional wisdom found by googling AVS is still good enough for most purposes. There is also a steady stream of input from the neuro- and bio-feedback fields, solid research that is a useful foundation for AVS research – innovations such as NP3’s BioOptimization will generate vast amounts of new “evidence” to support the use of AVS. Beyond that there’s a growing stream of new information from dubious sources such as myself and the authors of each quick trip to mental awesomeness. Much of that is belief-critical. My conclusions rely on the context of earlier ramblings, even if they do seem to materialize out of thin air. There’s a snippet in a piece by the creator of a system that emphasizes pitch, paraphrased, “Of course lowering the pitch…”, leaving the reader feeling ignorant, not previously being aware of the self-evidence of the value of pitch lowering (for the record – lowering the pitch can result in some awesomeness).

Every product currently on the market contains a leap of faith. Science has not yet properly described and validated most of AVS. In the process of which, Science has also not presented any significant objection to AVS. Some day there may be sufficient disaffected users to place AVS under the same scrutiny as homeopathy – I’m confident AVS will be validated quite swiftly.

My personal guarantee… “Hey! It works for me!”


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