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A Groundbreaking New Way To Combine Artificial Intelligence, Sound & Music To Boost Creativity, Focus, Sleep & More.

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

For the past couple months, I've been toying around with a new app and website called Brain.fm for everything from sleep to focus to creativity.

Frankly, I have no clue how it works, but it can knock me out like a baby for sleep, especially for napping or when I wake up in the middle of the night, it puts me directly into “The Zone” when I'm writing fiction or reading, and when I play it on an airplane I doze off like a baby.

I do know that it is far different than binaural beats and white noise, but know little else about the science behind Brain.fm, so for for today's episode, I managed to get the minds behind Brain.fm on the podcast to explain how you can use sound waves and artificial intelligence for sleep, focus, creativity and beyond.

During today's podcast, I interview Junaid Kalmadi, the CEO Co-Founder of Brain.fm, along with Adam Hewett, the mastermind behind the sound innovation and technology, and during our discussion, you'll discover:

Adam has been innovating with audio and brain stimulation for 14 years. Prior to brain.fm, Adam invented the first research focused entrainment software used by auditory neuroscientists and research labs around the world. Mind WorkStation (brain.fm’s predecessor) remains the gold standard for auditory stimulation and branches of neuroscience. He holds a patent on a method of his own invention for embedding brainwave stimulation into audio among others pending.

Junaid specializes in transporting innovation breakthroughs made in R&D to a consumer product experience that's easy for any human to use. Since April 2014, Junaid lead the company to growing to 300k+ users, 3 to 13 people in team size, published 2 pilot studies from respected neuroscientists, and featured on Inc Magazine, Guardian, Newsweek, New York Observer, Futurism. Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes, Vice, TechCrunch, Mashable, etc. Brain.fm also partnered with the team USA Olympic Wrestling team to help their insomnia & performance anxiety during preparation for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Their advisory board consists of leading auditory neuroscientists, notable serial entrepreneurs and angel investors.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What exactly is BrainFM…[8:45]

-How music can create neuronal oscillations in your brain…[13:00]

-Why listening to Bach or Beethoven for long periods of time can actually distract and “stress” your brain…[19:00]

-How the music and soundtracks used in brain.fm is different than binaural beats (and the unfortunate reality of binaural beats research)…[ 25:30]

-The fascinating artificial intelligence software that Adam invented to use “note-bots” for creating music for sleep, focus and creativity…[32:10]

-Whether any actual studies exist on the use of something like brain.fm to changing brain wave states…[44:15]

-The best kind of headphones to use with brain.fm…[50:45]

-And much more!

Resources from this episode:

Brain.fm app and website

SleepPhones (Headphones For Enhancing Sleep or Naps)

My recent article on how I use brain.fm for naps

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Junaid, Adam or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!


Also published on Medium.

39 thoughts on “A Groundbreaking New Way To Combine Artificial Intelligence, Sound & Music To Boost Creativity, Focus, Sleep & More.

  1. Help! Into my second monthly payment for Brain.fm and still can’t get on it. More frustrating is trying to contact them to straighten it out. Right now I have been paying for nothing.

    Ben, could you contact these gentlemen and have them email me? Sorry to involve you.

    Thank you

  2. Hi Aaron,

    In the podcast, you said you were going to list a few of your recommended headphones in addition to what Ben recommends but they were never added in the show notes. I would be interested in this information. Thanks!

  3. I appreciate your technology and mission and want to use it and subscribe, but the app is very frustrating to use. The aesthetic is pleasing, but the functionality is challenging enough that app is not user friendly. Offline use and lack of coherence are principle problems, but there are numerous bugs and oversights:

    – Sleep tracks never play in their entirety, e.g. seven hours, and when trying to rectify this in the middle of the night, rarely is balance of time accurately reflected. Could say something weird like 14 hours or 15 minutes like it’s a nap track.
    – Offline use is critical for this app, for health and functional reasons. Since any track I like is likely to be downloaded for offline use—using while in Airplane mode when sleeping—it’s very difficult to accurately identify tracks I like. Wait, associated image is supposed to help. Well, too often image is duplicated so it’s not actually differentiating track. So the procedure is very cumbersome: listen to each unidentified track, try to remember which one I like based on sound, then find it again to download all the while realizing that I’m not sure if it is the right one since sound of some tracks are remarkably similar. Assign it a number or name (I’d argue for former) and I’ll rename it later if I don’t like your choice.
    – Better, after I choose time, seven hours, provide a list with play/sample option to hear individual offerings but don’t abandon context. With a list, I know I’m listening to 1 of 5 options within sleep. With current design, I have no idea where I am in your library. This is compounded with Explore. Are these tracks the same as what’s in Mental State? Who knows.
    – If nothing more, give them numbers so returning to preferred track to download for offline use is easy.
    – Bug: if I sample a track in Mental State, sleep for example, then press back arrow Mental State list, track continues to play (which is fine), but without force quitting app, I no longer have control over audio. There is no play, pause button to stop track in this view.
    – The main problem is inattention to context: user doesn’t know which track of total offered within category they’re hearing and it’s too difficult to accurately distinguish any given track for future use.

    I know you’re technology has health value and benefits, but I’m not convinced I’ll resubscribe as current design is too nebulous and even confounding at times. Please address,

    -John

  4. I’ve been using Brain.fm just about every day for the past 16 weeks. I’ve also been continuing to use binaural beats during this time. While I do recognize the science, or lack thereof, I’m still uncertain if one modality is more effective than the other in practice.

    With that said, it sounds like there is a ton of science work going into Brain.fm, but their business acumen leaves more to be desired. The first sign was their awful website development, but the kicker is their lack of support response.

    I’ve sent several messages via their website as well as social media channels with zero response. Hopefully, I can get some answers here.

    1. I use a binaural beats iOS app that allows me to play other audio from other sources (e.g. music, podcasts) on top of it. While this is possible with Brain.fm on my PC, the iOS app doesn’t support this feature. [a.] So, firstly, is this something that Brain.fm is considering? Would it still be effective with audio from other sources playing over it? [b.] If so, while playing a podcast over Brain.fm would make for a nice experience, playing other music over Brain.fm’s music wouldn’t; so, would it be possible to have some sort of Brain.fm “undertone” that music could be played over?

    2. How much does volume affect the results?

    3. The initial options in the iOS app (Home: Select a Mental State) are: Focus, Meditate, Sleep, Nap, and Relax. The “Explore” options fall under: Focus, Relax, and Sleep. This is pretty confusing when trying to find a track to download for meditating or napping, which leads me to wonder: are Meditate, Nap, and Relax identical categories? Greater continuity throughout the app would be very helpful.

    4. The app is quite buggy. [a.] I downloaded all of the tracks, but sometimes after I play them offline, they disappear and I have to redownload them. [b.] When the tracks end, the “Timer Finished” popup that displays options to “Continue Playing” or “Go Home” doesn’t seem to work at all. The “X” to close the popup doesn’t even close the popup; instead, it seems to restart the track.

    1. Hi there CK,

      Thanks so much for reaching out here with a really excellent set of questions and feedback.

      First and foremost though, I really am sorry to hear about the trouble getting in touch with us. When you spot this, could you write to aaron (at) brain.fm and let me know what email address you’d used to contact us? I would love to dig in and figure out exactly what happened here so we can make sure we understand what happened + fix :)

      Now, to those questions + thoughts:

      1a and b. That isn’t actually something we’re considering at the moment, simply because we’ve found thus far that our app is at its most effective with as little outside noise as possible.

      2. Volume is certainly a factor- but the main thing with volume is that it should be loud enough for you to hear the audio clearly, without it being uncomfortable. That is, you should be able to listen loudly enough to block out distractions, but not so loudly that the audio itself is a distraction.

      3. Completely agreed continuity is key. Those 3 categories are distinct ones indeed- different audio altogether. At the moment, the “Sleep” options under Explore will also give the a choice between Nap and Sleep., but we do still have some work to do to bring that continuity in throughout.

      4. Our biggest priority right now is stability on all the apps, and making sure we can eliminate bugs like these as soon as possible.

      For [a.] I’m afraid that can happen right now if a track doesn’t DL successfully for any reason. Our latest update in the iTunes store now handles that a bit more clearly so tracks don’t disappear without explanation as to what happened. Ultimate fix will be to make sure they don’t appear on your offline panel if they haven’t DL’d completely.

      And [b.] has been fixed completely in the latest update!

      However, if you find that it hasn’t fixed for you, spot any other bugs, or have more feedback, again, would love to hear it anytime at aaron (at) brain.fm – thanks so much again!

      4. The app is quite buggy. [a.] I downloaded all of the tracks, but sometimes after I play them offline, they disappear and I have to redownload them. [b.] When the tracks end, the “Timer Finished” popup that displays options to “Continue Playing” or “Go Home” doesn’t seem to work at all. The “X” to close the popup doesn’t even close the popup; instead, it seems to restart the track.

      1. Hi Aaron,

        Thanks for the response!

        I did not use an email address to contact you for support, but rather I sent a message via the contact button when logged into your website.

        1. I hope you reconsider! While I understand that Brain.fm may be at its most effective with as little outside noise as possible, I would imagine that it’s more effective to use Brain.fm on top of whatever outside noises we consume in our routines versus not using Brain.fm at all.

        2. Makes sense!

        3. So, are “Meditate” and “Relax” the same? And is the difference between “Nap” and “Sleep” simply the length of time? This also leads me to ask: is a 15 minute track the same as the first 15 minutes of a 30 minute track of the same label?

        New question: Would you happen to have any data/info in regard to stacking Brain.fm with neuromodulation?

        Also, John Crosby poses some great points in his comment above that I’d be interested in seeing addressed.

  5. Hi Ben, Thank you for providing the cutting edge information on so many health and wellness topics! I always enjoy your podcast. I’m writing to ask if “Brain FM” will work for my husband who loss all hearing in one ear after undergoing surgery for an Acoustic Neuroma tumor?

    1. Also interested in this question! I too have single sided deafness, so wouldn’t want to waste time and money if I couldn’t get the benefit of this awesome product

  6. Awesome episode and a very cool sounding application. Would love to support this by purchasing the Lifetime Subscription everyone is talking about in this thread. Can’t seem to find this anywhere??? Ben, can you hook us up with the link so we can jump behind these guys and their work?

    Thanks!

  7. It’s 2:30 AM, and I’m desperately trying to get the sleep options to work. I sent you several messages from within the app before deleting it in an attempt to reinstall.

    After having the intro app on my phone for awhile (but not using it), and after hearing this podcast, I purchased a 3-month in-app upgrade. The Nap and Focus functions worked great on my iPhone 65. The Sleep functions not so much. The 8-hour offline download appeared to work, but after 2 hours of sleep, I awoke to see it had timed out.

    Various attempts to run the 6-hour and the 7-hour Sleep options brought error messages about connectivity both in download attempts and attempts to run online, yet my iPhone 6 seemed to be continuously connected.

    In my desperate attempt to get a version in which a Sleep function works, finally deleted the app and re-downloaded. In creating an account, I was notified that my email address was already on file. Directed to log in, I was chagrined to read that no such email address was on file.

    It’s 2:30 am, and I’m feeling not so happy.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing about this Ben!

    It seems to help me sleep better. My Oura ring tells me I got over an hour of deep sleep last night whereas some nights before that, without Brain.fm, I only got 2 minutes. So it’s definitely worth experimenting with and hopefully it is part of my health answer!

    1. Hi there Antoniya,

      Glad to help clear that one up! There simply hasn’t been any research or experience from us to know what would be the potential risks- that’s why our best suggestion is talking to your doctor. Thanks for the question!

  9. I have got tell you guys the Nap program is NEXT LEVEL out of this world effective! I bought this for the concentration program keeping me focused which it works as well. (I prefer some of the Floating Alpha wave 3D sound from Holosync), however the real gem here is the sleep part. Like a tranquilizer dart. As the sound moves around my head it actually feels like its fluffing my brain. I took two naps this weekend not because I was super tired but because I wanted the meditative sleep this can deliver in a 15 minute nap. Possibly a soft alarm function as a request for future releases for when the nap is over? Right now I need to set one separately on my phone

  10. I use the holisync binaural beats program for meditation. Do you currently recommend that meditators

    Use brain fm and if not do you ever intend to come out with your own meditation tracks?

  11. Ben,

    I’d be curious about how using their sleep music affected your Oura ring sleep output? I thought for sure you would bring it up during the podcast. And you can sleep all night with headphones on? I’d think they would come off.

    Cheers,

    Scott

    1. Hi there Dean- that part of the disclaimer for our app is a legacy of a time when it was thought that pulses of sounds could entrain the heart, and to an extent it can certainly cause varying cardiac activity, due to the newness of the experience, etc. But it’s really no different than any other similar experience, meditation, etc.

      Ultimately, we’ve left that language up as part of a better safe than sorry approach for those cases in which we’d love to have additional research + case studies to inform our recommendations.

    1. Hey Luigi! Thanks for asking- two points for ya on this.

      First- we’ve designed the brain.fm web app to be very mobile friendly, i.e. works great in Firefox or Chrome from Android mobile.

      Second- releasing a dedicated Android app is next up on our roadmap, we’re crunching hard now to have one out asap!

      1. Tell me you understand that it is NOT possible to play brain.fm in Firefox or Chrome at background or screen off.

        As long as you don’t have Android app, it is useless fo on-the-go Android users, unless you want to drain your whole day’s worth of battery budget in just 2 hours.

  12. Brain.fm needs an Android app already. I purchased a lifetime subscription months ago without realizing they don’t have one and it’s been pretty worthless for me.

    They’ve been promising one for months and I actually question whether they’re about to go under just because they can’t seem to get their act together on something as simple as an Android app.

    1. Hey Ian! First off, thanks a ton for picking up a lifetime of our app, appreciate that!

      But, really sorry for the lag on Android- with lessons learned from our iOS app launch, we’re putting an extreme focus on stability and a bug free experience before releasing for Android. With recent growth, we’ve been able to 3x our dev team to help get Android out asap.

      If you send over your Bfm account email to aaron at brain.fm, I’ll make sure you get an invite from us the moment we’re able to bring outside testers on board to check out the app! Thanks again!

  13. Because Brain.fm entrains particular brain states without doing the kind of careful whole-brain balancing that a neurofeedback practitioner would use, is there any significant chance of causing harmful permanent changes by putting yourself repeatedly in extreme brain states? Thanks.

      1. Thanks for the response, Aaron. I looked at the FAQ, and I guess what you’re saying is that, based on the state of the current research, we don’t really know the long-term effects of this kind of entrainment, as yet. For me, that is reason to proceed cautiously. Here is what the FAQ says, for anyone who’s interested:

        “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 stimulation. 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.”

    1. Hey Joe! Afraid you’re right that Brain.fm isn’t in the Play Store just yet, but having an Android app live there is our next big roadmap goal- really looking forward to being there asap.

      In the meantime, you can try the full experience via our web on Android simply by visiting brain.fm in Firefox or Chrome

  14. Hi Ben! Thanks for your great program. I love it!

    You still have sleepstream as your no 1 audio to help your sleep? But brain fm claims their technology is way better than binaural beats.

    Do you think sleepstream is better?

    Whats your take on the other binaural beats ( not sleep ) you have tried compared to brain fm?

    Best – Peter

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