By Park Si-soo
So-called ``audible drugs'' in the form of MP3 files, which allegedly give listeners similar effects as illegal drugs, are spreading online quickly.
The tracks, called ``I-Dosers,'' have been known among Internet-savvy users as a legal alternative to illicit drugs without the side effects. Several Internet communities have recently been created to share the music files and relevant information.
With no reports of side effects or accidents caused by the ``cyber drug'' yet, police remain inactive, while experts express concern over possible addiction to what they call ``audible drugs.''
The official Web site of the tracks (www.i-doser.com) states the products can help users achieve dozens kinds of ``simulated states'' through self-developed binaural brainwave technology ㅡ a concept which states that when two different tones are played in opposite ears, a beating sensation is created in the brain and make users feel a state similar to that caused by alcohol, marijuana, sleeping aids, ecstasy, heroin and other drugs, it said.
Many users praise the effects. A user who briefly noted his experience online said, ``It makes me feel as if I'm having an out-of-body experience.'' Some others described the products as ``life-changing,'' and ``inspiring,'' offering incomparably higher excitement than any other recreational tools they've had.
But not all users are happy about the products. ``One of the tracks I listened to left me with a severe headache for hours and a bad case of vertigo,'' another user said on an Internet bulletin board. `` I couldn't stand up for fear of toppling over.''
The Web site officially says these drug tracks are absolutely ``safe.''
``Apparently, the brain will slowly adjust itself back to reality when the track is done playing. Since it does not actually affect user's body in any physical way, there's little to worry about,'' it said.
Without specifying who developed them and whether they have been medically approved, the site says the tracks trigger psychological changes by stimulating alpha or beta wavelengths in listeners' brains.
But medical experts are suspicious about the I-doser's claims of safety.
Prof. Bae Myung-jin of Soongsil University raised concerns of possible addiction to the tracks.
``The tracks repeatedly play similar rhythms or beats. Basically, humans are vulnerable to such frequencies, meaning it's possible for users to get addicted,'' he said. ``Once addicted, they cannot feel comfortable without listening to the sounds.''
The Korea Neurofeedback Research Institute, a brainwave-specialized lab, analyzed the tracks and discovered waves that can stimulate certain desires.
Nam Jun-wook, president of the institute, said ``Consistent exposure to the tracks may problematically deter teenagers' brains from developing correctly.''
Despite experts' warnings, police said there are no countermeasures, citing no regulation defining the sounds as illegal.
``We have been told they can harm listeners. But under current laws, they are still legal,'' a National Policy Agency officer said. The Korea Communications Commission plans to inspect the files to decide whether setting a rule to control them is necessary.