A mind machine (or psychowalkman) uses pulsing rhythmic sound and/or flashing light to alter the brainwave frequency of the user. Mind machines are said to induce deep states of relaxation, concentration, and in some cases altered states of consciousness that have been compared to those obtained from meditation and shamanic rituals. The process applied by these machines is also known as brainwave synchronization or entrainment. Mind machines typically consist of a control unit, a pair of headphones and/or strobe light goggles. The unit controls the sessions and drives the LEDs in the goggles. Professionally, they are usually referred to as Auditory Visual Stimulation devices (AVS). Sessions will typically aim at directing the average brainwave frequency from a high level to a lower level by ramping down in several sequences. Target frequencies typically correspond to delta (1-3 hertz), theta (4–7 Hz), alpha (8–12 Hz) or beta brain waves (13–40 Hz), and can be adjusted by the user based on the desired effects.

There have been a number of claims regarding binaural beats (auditory processing artifacts or apparent sounds), among them that they may help people memorize and learn, stop smoking, tackle erectile dysfunction and improve athletic performance. However, research into binaural beats is very limited. No conclusive studies have been released to support marketing claims for binaural beat systems. Mind machines are often used together with biofeedback or neurofeedback equipment in order to adjust the frequency on the fly. Modern mind machines can connect to the Internet to update the software and download new sessions. When sessions are used in conjunction with meditation, neurofeedback, etc. the effect can be amplified. Rapidly flashing lights may be dangerous for people with photosensitive epilepsy or other nervous disorders. It is thought that one out of 10,000 adults will experience a seizure while viewing such a device; about twice as many children will have a similar ill effect.

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