Science & Tech:
What is Brain.fm?
Brain.fm provides music designed for the brain (generated by an AI we’ve invented) to improve focus, relaxation & sleep within 10 - 15 minutes of use.
Who makes the music in Brain.fm?
All of the music is generated by an AI we’ve built from the ground up.
What’s the story behind the AI?
An AI engine was built for the purpose of generating limitless content - in our case, audio brain entrainment files. This AI engine is capable of producing beautiful music that can be timed – with millisecond precision – to the rhythms required for audio brain entrainment. The music in Brain.fm may seem like it’s made by humans (especially the electronic focus sessions), but it’s powered by a complex music-composing AI engine.
The type of AI used for this is referred to as emergent. Emergence is a process whereby complex patterns arise through interactions among simpler entities. Every instrument, and in many cases every note, beat or raindrop, is its own little brain interacting with other musical elements to produce a more complex composition.
You can read more on Emergent AI here: emergent behavior – computationally unpredictable results from a computationally simple rule
It was taking our co-founder (Adam Hewett) anywhere from two weeks to a month to create a single 1 hour session. These are long sessions because we have to keep people focused or asleep for long periods of time (up to eight hours). It was unrealistic to do it all in a regular digital audio workstation. The tools most musicians use don’t place emphasis on millisecond precision and other musical features needed for this brain-related work. A tool had to be built from the ground up to create what Brain.fm needed.
Think of a rain storm with hundreds of thousands of drops. In Brain.fm’s rain sounds, a single drop is synchronized to the phase of the brainwave we are trying to stimulate. It’s in-synch with our modulations. This is part of what makes it extremely powerful, and also part of why we needed a computer to generate it for us.
There’s also creativity involved - you have to make a decent sounding piece of music. It has to follow certain rules and yet also think for itself. Existing music-generation algorithms weren’t up to our quality standards, so we had to create our own program.
What used to take 2 weeks now takes minutes. On the first live run of the AI, we were able to generate 117 new sessions in 30 minutes. This gives us the ability to create limitless content under most genres (although we are still perfecting a few).
How does Emergent AI work in Brain.fm?
For every song, a ‘song-bot’ is created that handles the genre specifications and coordinates the entire piece of music, kind of like a conductor. From there, hundreds or thousands of smaller ‘note-bots’ are created to handle every instrument, and in many cases every note or beat. They are like tiny brains in themselves and all have different purposes, such as:
- Alignment: perhaps with another note on the scale
- Measure: finding their part in the measure, i.e. certain drum beats may always want to be on a beat on the first part of the measure or in the middle.
- Instructions: maybe there are some specific chords we want to use, keys we need to avoid, tempo, brainwave protocols, genre, etc.
These note-bots compete with each other, and due to their individual properties and the song-bot’s instruction, some bots will be able to override - or coordinate - with others. Depending on what comes before, something else may have a greater weight. They obey certain rules to form a background, drum line, or a simple melody, and then they pass that information along to subsequent incarnations. Thus, they define each other different ways. When you listen to a Brain.fm track you can tell things are fading in and out - that’s because they have a lifespan and are also competing against each other.
It’s a community of little occurrences, and due to a kind of musical natural-selection process, something more complex and beautiful emerges.
What’s the 3D audio component ni?
We’ve invented a way to bypass ‘3D dummy heads’ a.ka. the current gold standard in any 3d audio recording process (including VR) and can produce realistic 3D sounds that are engineered 100% digitally.
We’ve spent 13 years perfecting MIT’s HRTF technology (advanced 3D audio used in gaming and entertainment) to deliver the most immersive 3D audio experience, ever.
What’s the science behind Brain.fm?
Download our white paper
Download our Science FAQ
Learn more at brain.fm/science
Is Brain.fm using binaural beats?
Brain.fm technology is completely unrelated to binaural beats. Binaural beats relate to auditory beat stimulation (ABS) methods12. The binaural beat percept seems to be caused by the major neural mechanism that enables sound localization, which occurs at the subcortical level. The impact of binaural beats on cognition is moreover not well established: Findings for most putative applications up to now are either solitary or contradictory, and the underlying neural mechanisms are still yet to be unraveled12.
On contrary, Brain.fm technology exploits auditory rhythms and is backed-up by plenty of neurophysiological experiments13 (see also above).
How long do the effects last? Are there long- term effects?
Currently, there is no consensus on these questions. In the past decades, researchers investigated and described entrainment during the stimulation period. Currently, different laboratories start to explore the short-term after-effects of neuronal entrainment induced by rhythmic auditory stimulation9,10. Their results suggest that entrainment continues even after stimulus offset. However, it is currently unknown whether long-term effects exist, i.e. whether such stimulation induces either marginal or significant reorganization of the brain.
Does altering brainwaves really mean we are altering mental state?
It is now admitted that neuronal oscillations play an important role in brain operations5. Cognition – the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses – results from interactions among functionally specialized but widely distributed brain regions, organized as sets of neuronal networks. Cognitive processes can be associated with specific neuronal networks (such as the dorsal attention network, the default mode network, the alertness network, and so on*); and the multiple brain regions composing a neuronal network communicate through neuronal oscillations. Thus, neuronal oscillations correspond to the critical ‘middle ground’ linking single-neuron activity to behavior. The emerging new field of ‘neuronal oscillations’ has created an interdisciplinary platform that cuts across psychophysics, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, biophysics, computational modeling, physics, mathematics, and philosophy. And specific patterns of neuronal oscillations now start to be seen as fingerprints of cognitive processes11. Mental states can thus be altered via neuronal oscillations, but such an alteration has to reach a critical level to be consciously perceived. Indeed, neuronal oscillations are in a constantly fluctuating, while we have a subjective impression of mental stability and continuity.
* See also: www.brain.fm/pdfs/ResearchLibrary.pdf
Does Brain.fm have any peer- reviewed papers published?
Brain.fm is currently in the process of scientifically validating its concepts, but no study is currently published.
In collaboration with Dr. Psyche Loui from Wesleyan University (USA), Dr. Benjamin Morillon from Aix-Marseille University (France), and Dr. Andrea Spencer from Harvard Medical School (USA) Brain.fm is currently investigating the impact of its music at both the behavioral and neurophysiological level – thanks to Electroencephalography (EEG) and functional MRI (fMRI). Some pilot data can be found at: www.brain.fm/science
Access and Accounts:
What devices can I use to listen to Brain.fm?
If your device can run Chrome, Firefox or Safari, you can use it to listen. Visiting brain.fm in any modern web browser lets you access the full app.
We also have an iOS app available via iTunes (download it here). Our Android mobile app is 80% complete, and desktop apps are coming soon.
How do I purchase?
In the free trial, you’ll spot an “Upgrade” button in the top right corner. There you’ll find all the subscription details, and the option to purchase using any major international credit card (need an account? Sign up here).
How do you ensure payment security?
We use a service called Stripe, an internationally trusted payment provider certified at the most stringent level available in the payments industry (more about their security measures). We don’t store your credit card details on our servers, meaning their security can’t be compromised by either our company, or anyone who might access your brain.fm account.
Can I upgrade later to a Yearly or Forever plan?
Absolutely- just drop us a note and we’re glad to arrange a pro-rated upgrade to/from any plan, anytime.
What if I need to cancel?
No problem! None of our subscriptions tie you to a contract, and we honor a 60 day money back guarantee. You can cancel at any time from your Account Overview on the site, or by contacting us.
Getting Best Results:
Any gear needed or recommended?
We suggest using high quality earphones or headphones- here’s a low cost pair of earphones we recommend (and use ourselves).
For Sleep sessions, it’s ideal to use headband-style earphones for added comfort and stability during the night- here’s a link to the pair we both recommend and use.
When should I listen?
Listen anytime you want to focus, relax, sleep, nap or meditate. We suggest listening during the activity, (i.e. use the audio while you’re studying, instead of before) and listening as often as you’d like.
Why shouldn’t I listen without headphones?
Without headphones you won’t hear the 3D audio enhancements, which are significant to the impact that the sessions are capable of.
With stereo headphones, we can place a sound anywhere in 3D audio space. Behind you, in front of you, below you, around you, etc.
For Focus sessions, we spatially locate all of the sound in front of you - as if the sound were coming from a book you are reading or a central point on the monitor in front of you. It keeps your mind attentive to what it’s looking at. It also places other sounds around you, which helps to drown out background noise.
For Sleep and Relax, it mimics the rocking of a cradle or hammock. This is one of the theories behind why our sleep sessions work so well. The ears have a lot to do with balance.
Can I download the audio and listen offline?
Yes, with the iOS app you can (note: this is a PRO feature). The Android app (80% finished now) will also feature the ability to download any session for offline playback.
Project and Team:
What does it mean that Brain.fm is in “beta”?
The “beta” tag is an open acknowledgement that this is a work in progress. Though the current beta is highly stable, it’s possible you’ll encounter glitches. The benefit? You're getting in on the ground floor of something big. During the beta, we are constantly improving Brain.fm and experimenting (safely) with new technologies behind the scenes. You get a front row seat to this emerging technology.
Who’s the team behind brain.fm?
Learn more about us here - brain.fm/about
What features are coming soon / how can I learn about updates?
Next on our roadmap:
- Android app
- New genres of content
- Highly customized recommendation engine
- Mac app
- New mental states
Got suggestions for the product roadmap? We’d love to hear it! Reach out to us anytime at [email protected]
I have another question / spotted a bug / have a suggestion - where do I reach you?
Reach out to us anytime at [email protected]
We usually respond within 24 - 36 hours.