iDosing: Not the Newest Product from Steve Jobs

I read Huffington Post on my iPhone daily. Yesterday an article popped up that exposed the concept of iDosing, Digital Drugs: How Teens are Using the Internet to get ‘High’. From the title, I thought maybe it was going to be some stab at addiction to social networking. Nope.

iDosing/i-Dosing, sitting still with headphones on while listening to atonal digital audio files, is said to alter brain waves and produce a state of ecstasy for the ‘user’ (i.e. listener). It doesn’t seem like they’re music tracks at all – more akin to an album of ambient sounds you’d get to unwind. They (binaural beats) are designed simply to affect brain waves. Then again, I believe that all types of sounds/music have an effect on the brain – take a look at some music therapy or medical ethnomusicology research.

How much of an effect does it really have? How would an ethnomusicologist put this into a sociocultural context? (Is it completely out of those bounds?)

Back in September 2008, Huffington posted another article, Evil Internets Trying to Hook Your Kids on Digital Drugs: Either that, or the MSM is Dead. That article summarizes: you buy a dose (track) based on the effect you want to achieve: marijuana, LSD, crack, heroin, perhaps a simulation of heaven or hell, or PMS relief. This means you’re walking into it with an agenda – an affirmation that you want to achieve an altered state of mind. I think it would be safe to say then, that you’d have to walk into it with the conviction that it will work. Much like a medium, in order to be receptive it’s vital to make yourself vulnerable to it. Maybe. Though I’m not sure I believe in mediums.

Naturally, the most recent Huffington article poses that authorities and parents are worried about the effect of this ‘drug’ on their kids, and whether or not it will act as a gateway drug to something else. On the other hand, if your child is sitting there listening for hours listening to these tracks, maybe something else was the gateway. Or maybe they just need to see a therapist.

For example, Psychology Today says this type of digital audio is used therapeutically and can even treat folks with ADHD – i.e. it’s not dangerous. Is it a new marketing technique for old-school relaxation tapes? A placebo effect?

I’m interested in any further research as to the physical effects of iDosing on one’s nervous system, particularly because mine is so out of whack (which is why I won’t be experimenting with this).

It would be great to do a brain wave comparison between these digitally formatted tracks, relaxation tapes or meditation, throat singing, or Buddhist chanting… or to test the subliminal advertising effects, if any. I can imagine that the acoustic environment external to your headphones has a big effect in addition to the quality of the output and headphones themselves. If Psychology Today did an article on it, I wonder if they’re posing some type of quantitative analysis comparison of whatever it is they’re using on patients and the typical iDose.

I’m not sure why Huffington decided now was a good time to re-post this concept. Perhaps some new research is out on it (though they didn’t mention that), or perhaps one of their bloggers just found out about it and wanted to rant.

If you’re curious, here’s one of the tracks:

Related links to iDosing:

I-Doser: Binaural Brainwave Doses

Fox: Los Angeles

Telegraph UK [article]

Binaural Beats [shop for them]

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics

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