Dr Alfred Tomatis, a French Ear Nose and Throat specialist, developed a special interest in the field of sound therapy and auditory stimulation in the 1950’s. His evidence-based findings led him to develop an auditory stimulation technique, called the Tomatis® method.
What is Tomatis®?
A Tomatis®-based listening and sensory stimulation programme. It stimulates and activates the auditory processing system, preparing the inner ear and brain to better receive, select and process auditory information by organising the sensory system on a neurological level. The purpose of this is to reactivate full listening potential in an individual. It combines the latest research in neuroscience and cognitive science and has been used effectively for over 50 years to help people across the world.
The Tomatis® system is the home-based version of the larger Tomatis® programme. It is a portable digital device, which is accompanied by a set of specialized headphones that have a vibrator situated in the headband. The Solisten® device plays pre-programmed and specifically altered music through the headphones, which helps to improve the neural connection between the inner ear and brain.
The Tomatis® method, via the Solisten® device has shown to be effective for improving:
- Sensory processing
- Motor planning and motor coordination
- Emotional dysregulation
- Learning and language difficulties
- Executive functioning
How does it work?
The Tomatis® method, via the Solisten® device, exercises the tiny muscles in the middle ear to restore their full function, allowing the ear to hear and respond to all sound frequencies. By exercising the muscles in the middle ear, they become more responsive to sound and better equipped to accurately transmit messages to the brain. This develops the neural pathways required for accurate listening.
The ear and the brain are intricately connected to the whole body via a variety of pathways. Therefore, the Tomatis® system not only changes the way the ear works, but also impacts the body as a whole. The ear is not only responsible for listening, but is also responsible for body movements and plays an important role in balance. Seven of the twelve cranial nerves are related to the ear anatomically, and are also stimulated when listening to the Tomatis® system. This results in improved neural connectivity and organisation in the areas that these nerves innervate.
Furthermore, the ear houses 70% of the body’s energy potential. By stimulating the ear via the music played through the Tomatis® system, the body is energized and attention is better sustained.
We need our auditory system to be well integrated so that we can access other sensory systems at the same time. For example, looking and listening at the same time, a task many children find very difficult.
The Tomatis® Effect is based on three researched laws
- That the voice can only contain what the ear can hear.
- If one’s hearing is modified, one’s voice is immediately and unconsciously altered accordingly.
- Phonation, can be altered and this change can be sustained, if auditory stimulation is maintained over time.
How does sound travel?
Sound is conducted in two ways, firstly through air, via sound waves, and secondly through bone conduction. Air conduction provides refined information, whereas bone conduction provides muffled information. Sound travels ten to twenty times slower through air, because the air conduction of sound has a more complicated pathway to travel. Bone conduction of sound helps to prepare the ear to receive the sound waves. Therefore bone conduction of sound is integral to the adequate interpretation of sound.
What makes Tomatis® unique?
- The Tomatis® system is the original auditory stimulation programme that makes use of the air and bone conduction of sound. This stimulates the auditory system via both mediums and not only the air conduction of sound. Bone conduction is calming and organising on a neurological level, which helps to prepare the ear to receive the various frequencies of sound.
- Tomatis® uses a gating system, which involves the music constantly and frequently changing between low and high frequencies. This prepares the ear and brain to receive a wider band of sound frequencies. The constant changes between the low and high frequencies results in sound being unpredictable, which results in the muscles in the middle ear constantly contracting and relaxing, becoming stronger and more effective at transmitting sound.
- Filters within the music pieces allow for certain frequencies to be let through and others to be inhibited, so that selected music pieces allow for either heightened sensory organisation and a calming effect, or for more intense auditory stimulation, should that be indicated.