Our Music And Our Brain
Why pay $$$ for the gear? Invest in your ears.
Eric, I don't know if it's just me having problems, but the first
page of the original was empty.
Otherwise, this is about what I brought up in some earlier thread
that I think you started, about various listening training/therapy
methods. The most well-known are the Tomatis and Berard
[Following paragraph can be skipped if short of time]
Tomatis was the pioneer in this area, starting his,
mostly private, research in the late fourties, developing his
therapy method and carrying out "research" on various aspects
of hearing and other things he found to be related. Berard
worked with Tomatis for some time, and then went away
developing a simplified version of Tomatis' method. Tomatis
was a physician, specialized in ORL, who at first did some
"official" reasearch at the medical department of a Paris
hospital, although at his own expense and in his spare time.
He did the "severe mistake" of not mentioning his professors
name on the first article he published, since nobody had told
him it should be there even though the professor had really
had nothing to do with it. This was the root of his later problems
to get accepted by the french medical community. He left the
university hospital and ran his own clinic specializing in ORL,
and carried out experiments and developed his listening
method in parallel, usually driven by finding some way to
cure his patients that didn't respond to standard treatments.
Hm, I'd better try to cut the history short. Tomatis decided
already as a child to be a physician, since he wanted to help
operasingers with voice problems, his father was an opera
singer. Hence, one of his earliest discoveries was the connection
between hearing and speech. He found that the spectrum of
a persons voice coincides with the persons audiogram, that is
we can only produce those frequencies we can hear. Almost
all speech problems are hearing-related. His first attempts
at a therapy method was thus to try restoring the hearing
spectrum, why he developed his first prototype machine for
training the ears, or rather the brain and ear. Over the years
he made improvements to the method and discovered various
interesting things, which made it possible for him to treat more
and more problems, eg. stuttering. He also found (or maybe it
was known) that the hearing operates in two different modes,
depending on whether we are listening to something or talking
(ie. listening to ourselves). When talking there is a feedback
loop and the hearing and processing in the brain controls the
voice, mainly through the right ear (later shown also in american
experiments). He also found that our hearing spectrum (for the
talking mode only, I think) depends on our native language,
which explains why some languages are more difficult to learn
than others, it depends on how much the spectrum of sounds
in the languages differs. Hence, the method can be used to
speed up and improve learning of foreign languags, and I
understand the method has been proven in a EU-sponsored
research project to work for this purpose. Only in recent years
has the medical community started to show some interest in
the method and some reasearch projects qualifying as scientific
medical research are being undertaken at various places. I learnt
just a few weeks about an experiment at an Austrian hospital
where coma patients are treated with the method and several
of them have come out of their coma, one after 17 years in coma.
The study is not yet finished and officially reported, but my
understanding is that the number of patients waking up is
much larger than could reasonably have been expected without
treatment, but I do not know how any figures. Now, the method
may sound like a miracle and the usual alternative-medicine
stuff, so everybody has to make their own judgement of it. While
not yet being accepted as medical treatment in Sweden, some
hospitals are trying the method on ADHD children and similar.
Otherwise the method is only provided commercially here, and
not with any claims of medical treatment.
I have myself undergone the Tomatis listening method and have
noted a number of positive benefits. My primary reason was
that I am extremely sensitive to disturbing sounds making me
hyper-stressed if there are any sounds not under my own
control (like music from my stereo) around me. This has improved.
Sounds that were simply driving me mad before are now rather
disturbing but tolerable. I still can't shout off the outer world
like some people seem to be able to, though. It has also had
a positive effect on my tinnitus. It is not gone, but I hear it
more seldom and not so loud. Then a lot of other things happen
to, like the voice changing, to the better, a better ability to
concentrate and pay attention. I have never before been so
alert and able to really listen as on some recent concert and
opera events. The hearing improves in general, one suddenly
hears birds one hasn't paid attention to before, one hears
details in music better etc.
So what's the method? Basically one listens to music (Mozart
and Gregorian chants) through headphones. Two different
filterings of the spectrum are selected (these are continously
modified for every half-hour of a session, which is usually two
hours). These filters are alternately selected, earlier at a certain
level threshold, but I think it is randomly in the more recent
equipment. This confuses the brain, and it is believed that
new brain connections develops as the brain tries to make
sense of the ever-changing and often heavily biased spectrum.
Further, we have two ears and we also hear through bone
conduction, so these headphones have an actuator for bone
conducted sound as well, giving us three channels. These can
all have their own set of filters and a varying time delay between
the three channels is also often utilised. (This is about my
understanding of how the method works).
For those who would like to read more I highly recommend:
A. Tomatis: The Concious Ear
A. Tomatis: The Ear and Language
and for those who, unlike me, can handle medical text in french
A. Tomatis: Vers l'Ecoute Humaine (well I can't really recommend
it since I haven't read it :) ).
The main international website for the Tomatis method is
For USA, Canada, Mexico
Unfortunately, I cannot right now find the URL of the main
centre, Centre Tomatis in Paris, which certifies all other centers.
Disclaimer: I am not in anyway affiliated with practioners of
the Tomatis method other than as paying customer and as
being very interested in the method. Everyone must make
their own judgement of what, if anything, of this they choose
to believe in.
Have you downloaded and installed Acrobat reader 6.0 yet?
Play It Once And Put It Away.
Hi Christer, that first link is to a Pdf file - you need to wait for it to download.
Past ear/sinus infections and sensitivities to foods or environmental chemicals can alter aural perception, and make you wrongly sensitive to some sounds and hypertensive - a food elimination diet may help your plight too.
I have indeed found that a nicely high performing hifi system playing pleasant music can open up ones hearing, and conversely a bad sounding system can cause aural shutdown and unconcious filtering, and a consequent subtle hypertension - I believe that many younsters listening to modern music on rotten sounding modern shelf systems are infact winding themselves up, and are creating and reinforcing loops in their brains.
Beware of what music you listen to, beware of how often you hear the same music, and beware of what you listen to it on.
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