The Application of Audio-Visual Entrainment for the Treatment of
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Part 3
By Dave Siever
A number of coping techniques are used to reduce the symptoms of SAD. These include
long walks outside, aerobic exercise, a diet rich in complex carbohydrates or “carbs” and protein
diets, relocating to sunnier locations, winter vacations to tropical areas, and frequenting
sun-tanning centres. Light based clinical interventions include light box therapy and audiovisual
“Light box” therapy has been used to reduce the symptoms of SAD in 60% to 80% of SAD
patients (Lam, 1999). White light therapy, using intensities of 2,500 lux, requires exposure
times from 2 to 6 hours, a considerable behavioral investment for the user (Terman, et. al.,
1989). Light exposures in the intensity of 10,000 lux for 30 minute exposures has been found to
be more effective than 2,500 lux intensity with exposure times of several hours (Terman, et.al.,
1990). Some people have reported that over-use of light therapy can leave them feeling “wired”
and restless (Rosenthal, 1993).
Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) using flashing lights and pulsing tones has been shown to
enhance EEG activity at the stimulation frequency, however, a lesser known attribute of AVE
lies in its inhibition effect at roughly the half-frequency of stimulation (Siever, 2003). In
QEEGs (brain maps) collected at our office of those with SAD, we have observed long spindles
of 10 Hz alpha brain wave activity, globally, with particularly increased activity in the left frontal
regions, consistent with Allen’s findings. In light of these findings, we had chosen to utilize
20 Hz AVE as a treatment modality for SAD.
SAD Study Using Audio-Visual Entrainment
The Digital Audio-Visual Integration Device (DAVID) Paradise by Comptronic Devices
Limited (now Mind Alive Inc.) was used in a 4-week randomized study of 74 SAD sufferers
(52 females and 22 males, avg. age = 38.5 years) to reduce the symptoms of SAD through the
application of AVE. The participants were screened according to the DSM-IV, SAD requirements.
The study accepted participants from Edmonton, Alberta at roughly 53.5 northern latitude
from November 1998 to March 1999.
The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI) were used
for the pre-test, post-test (placebo), and the post-post-test (treatment) results. A daily diary was
maintained to record total sleep time, sociability at work and with the family, eating, appetite
and carbohydrate intake, cravings, energy and body weight.
The participants were divided into two groups: a Control Group (CG) that did not receive the
DAVID AVE unit and the Treatment Group (TG) that received “placebo” and treatment sessions.
The Treatment Group received sub-delta (placebo) frequencies of 1 Hz for 2 weeks followed
by beta frequencies (treatment sessions) of 20 Hz for 2 weeks. Fifty-eight treatment participants
and 16 control participants finished the study. Paired t-tests were used in the within
group measurements, and the analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used in the between group
Copyright: Dave Siever (2013) CA. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.