Results of two small experimental studies recently presented at the 2016 meeting of the American Council on Hypertension, showed that an innovative neurotechnology that uses sound to identify, translate and balance electrical activity in the left and right hemispheres of the brain was associated with lower blood pressure, improved heart rate and reduced migraines.

The innovative sound therapy called HIRREM™ (high-resolution, relational, resonance-based electroencephalic mirroring), also known as Brainwave Optimization™, is a non-invasive neurotechnology that uses audible tones to facilitate the brains ability to correct neural imbalances that result from abnormal dominance of the left or right hemispheres in the brain.

Researchers suggest that imbalances in the brain with one side dominant (or more active) may reflect dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system which activates the fight or flight response. Brain imbalances and hyperarousal can result from chronic stress which has been associated with high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia, depression and other clinical disorders.
The theory is that such imbalances are dysfunctional and cause the brain to deviate from its own state of equilibrium or unique set point.
Results of Clinical Studies
The team of researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina have been experimenting with the use of sound feedback to automatically calibrate and optimize neural oscillations (rhythmic or repetitive frequency of a cluster of neurons in the central nervous system). Neural oscillations play a functional role as the important building blocks for sensory-cognitive processing.
Results of one of the studies with 10 men and women with stage one hypertension, showed that after 10 in-office sessions, patients experienced reduced systolic blood pressure (from 152 to 136 mm Hg) and reduced diastolic blood pressure (from 97 to 81 mmHg). In addition to improved heart rate variability, results also demonstrated improvements in patients with insomnia and anxiety.
The second study was conducted with 52 adults who suffered from migraines. After nearly 16 sessions over 2 weeks, results showed that patients reported improvements for insomnia, migraine headaches and mood.
How HIRREM™ works
Sensors are placed on the scalp to measure electrical activity in the brain, detect imbalances in the right or left hemispheres and identify hyperarousal. 

Electrical activity in the brain is monitored by HIRREM™ technology which translates the dominant brain frequencies into audible tones that are played back to the individual through earphones. The auditory tones reflect the brain’s pattern of electrical frequencies which are constantly changing. The response process essentially become a closed loop of continuous auditory signaling providing feedback to the brain almost immediately facilitating the relaxation of neural oscillations.

Relaxation of the rhythmic activity in the neural networks allows the brain to shift towards a more balanced state without the conscious input or action from the individual. This non-invasive method gives the brain a chance to subtly increase or decrease energy as needed to recalibrate itself move the individual back to their own of point of equilibrium.
According to Hossam A. Shaltout, an assistant professor on the HIRREM™ research team at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, “Gradually and on its own, with no conscious, cognitive activity required, the electrical pattern tends to shift towards improved balance and reduced hyperarousal,”. 
Researchers point out that there is no population based “norm” that is achieved during this process since each person has their own unique “set point”. Also, the process does not use operant conditioning (conscious reward-based conditioning) to achieve results since there is no cognitive engagement by the individual.
While researchers agree that larger controlled clinical studies are needed, results of these studies offer a first glimpse on the potential therapeutic benefits of noninvasive neurotechnology in the treatment of high blood pressure, migraines and sleep disorders.

Sources: American Heart Association Meeting Report Abstracts P310, P602, Detailed HIRREM Process, HIRREM™: a noninvasive, allostatic methodology for relaxation and auto-calibration of neural oscillations, Brain Oscillations in neuropsychiatric disease

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