Yes, the ability of the brain to change is known as neuroplasticity (also called brain plasticity, or brain malleability). It is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. For example, if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the intact hemisphere may take over some of its functions. The brain compensates for damage in effect by reorganizing and forming new connections between intact neurons. In order to reconnect, the neurons need to be stimulated through activity. The same is true for parts of the brain compensating for injury or disease.
At a time when the idea of plasticity of the brain was in its infancy, Dr. Tomatis discovered that it was possible to retrain and improve the processing of sound by the brain stem and cortex using filtered music (i.e. music with certain frequency ranges removed or enhanced) and the sudden and random alteration to the pitch or tone of the music (‘gating’).
The following notes explain Tomatis music processing techniques, all of which are safe and have been tested over many years of application to both children and adults.
Bone conduction: Most of us are not aware of it, but we hear sounds in 2 ways – through air conduction and bone conduction. The odd sensation of hearing our own voice on a recording and not recognizing it is because on the recording we only hear the air conducted sound of our voice. When we speak, we hear our voice through both air and bone conduction (which is why when we go to an audiologist to have our hearing checked, a vibrator is placed on the mastoid bone right behind the ear to test our bone conduction response).
Lower frequencies in particular lend themselves to conduction by bone. These frequencies seem to have a very positive effect on our vestibular function. The process is as natural and safe as listening to a church choir or talented baritone voice.
Frequency Filtration: Based partly on the theory that those who can hear more of the auditory spectrum have an advantage in learning, Tomatis’ programs employ gradually increasing filtration levels. By filtering, or letting only certain frequencies through, we are able to selectively train parts of a client’s auditory spectrum, improving learning-related abilities such as pitch discrimination (selectivity), sound decoding, and auditory memory.
Gating: The muscles of the inner ear have as one of their functions the job of screening out unwanted sounds. The gating separates music into 2 channels, alternating (or “gating”) them, with one channel boosting high frequencies and the other channel boosting low frequencies as the music volume increases and decreases. This causes the muscles in the middle ear to continuously tighten and relax, a process that strengthens them. As the muscles become stronger so does our ability for focused listening and paying attention.