NEP NuEar Programming
-The Tomatis Method
Listening vs. Hearing
Listening may be our most fundamental communication and learning skill, yet it is perhaps the most commonly neglected one. The main reason for this oversight is that a listening problem usually goes undetected, since listening doesn't manifest itself directly. Also, it is often confused with hearing.
There is a major distinction between hearing and listening. While hearing is the passive, involuntary function of sound perception, listening is active and voluntary. When well developed or well trained, the listening function allows us to focus on the sound information we need and leave out, or protect ourselves from sounds that are unnecessary. Though the vestibular function of the inner ear, this focusing ability of the ear and brain has far reaching implications on spatial awareness and the control of body movement leading to enhanced self-awareness and self-control.
Listening is at the base of most skills involved in communication, verbal as well as non-verbal, socialization, language and learning.
Tomatis Method helps to determine how a person's listening is interrupted or distorted, thus causing certain behaviors; and then to re-organize one's listening.
The ability of the brain to change is known as neuroplasticity (also called brain plasticity). 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 stimulate the brain 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, can be safely applied to both children and adults：
Bone conduction: We might not aware that 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 recognising 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.
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, hence, Tomatis’ programs allow gradually increasing filtration levels. By filtering, or letting only certain frequencies through, we are able to selectively train parts of a person’s auditory spectrum, improving learning-related abilities such as pitch discrimination (selectivity), sound decoding, and auditory memory.
Gating: One of the functions of the inner ear muscles is to screen 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.
Ear plays a unique and critical role in day-to-day living ...
The ear is the first organ to grow in utero.
Sound is critical in normal human development.
The ear and nervous system are intricately connected.
The ear is connected to the body through three tracts Tomatis called integrators:
Vestibular (or somatic) integrator for body image, movement
Visual (or spatial) integrator for ear/eye connection
Cochlear (or linguistic) integrator for brain stimulation
The vestibule, located in the inner ear, has 3 main functions:
Balance: As the primary organ of equilibrium, it plays a major role in the subjective sensation of motion and spatial orientation
Posture: Vestibular input to areas of the nervous system elicit adjustments of muscle activity and body posture
Eye Movement: Vestibular input to the nervous system helps stabilize the eyes during head movements
Our ears, our eyes and inner ear (balance) work independently – and that they have their own discreet neurological pathways that co-ordinate or manages each individual function. Yet, each of these three systems talks to and receives information from the other two systems at all times. The elaborate communication system between these three major senses must be coordinated smoothly and efficiently for optimal functioning to occur. This communication is achieved through what is called an integrated system: auditory, visual and vestibular (balance).
Given these 3 functions, one can see how important the vestibular system is to our sense of balance, our posture and muscle development, and the eye tracking ability required for learning.
Benefits of the Tomatis Effect
1. Ears + Eyes Coordination: Your ears collect sounds, which provide critically important stimulation for the brain. They also integrate sensory information from muscle movement. An example of this is when your eyes automatically move towards an unexpected sound.
2. Brain Energy: Sound waves entering the outer ear are transformed into electrical impulses in the inner ear and sent to the brain; those impulses provide energy to the brain and influence our ability to focus and sustain attention. Brain scans show, for example, that children with AD/HD lack ‘energy’ in key parts of the brain for attention and focus.*
3. Relay stations to the brain: The vestibular and cochlear systems, located in the inner ear, work together to relay sensory input to the brain. They play a key role in our ability to integrate our senses, and their successful interaction is essential for language development, sensory processing and motor function.
4. Pitch discrimination (Selectivity): Further on, (in the colliculus), processing influences the ability to recognize the relationship between high and lower tones and the integration of sound with other sensory information (e.g that coming from the eyes). This ability to differentiate a higher from a lower tone is critical to distinguishing between a question and statement, and determining the tone of speech. Those with poor selectivity often cannot hear the tone and therefore the meaning.
5. Selectivity: Helps us to distinguish between letters that sound alike. Those who struggle with the difference between a “p” and “b”, or a “t” and “d” are at a disadvantage in reading, spelling and writing.
6. Automaticity: The cerebellum, which lies immediately above the brain stem, has long been known to control the rhythm and timing of movement. The vestibular system and the cerebellum constantly interact to give expression to the rhythm and timing of complex movements.
* Hoogman M, Bralten J, Hibar DP, et al. Subcortical brain volume differences in participants with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults: a cross-sectional mega-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 2017;4(4):310-319. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30049-4
We read with our eyes and ears. Reading requires the ears and eyes to work together synchronously. As your eyes move from letter to letter your ear (cochlea) translates each letter into a sound. The vestibular system coordinates the eye movements and aids the synchronicity of the eyes and ears.
area of application :
Music therapy can reduce stress and promote relaxation. It’s been shown to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety levels before surgery. A study published in 2017 found that a 30-minute music therapy session combined with traditional care after spinal surgery reduced pain.
For more information about how Tomatis can apply to different areas of life:
** Excerpt from the Foreword in Paul Madaule’s e-book “When Listening Comes Alive” by Dr. Norman Doidge, author of “The Brains Way of Healing” and “The Brain That Changes Itself “
Phonics Phones (Toobaloo)/ Forbrain
What is a Phonics Phones/ Toobaloo ?
A phonics phone is a simple tube shaped like a ‘telephone’ receiver, often made from plastic PVC pipe. There are several different versions of these phones, however most are simple hollow tubes that allow the student to speak quietly in one end and hear their own voice through the other. Students use the ‘phone’ to listen to their own voice as they practice reading. challenges with the Toobaloo. Created by a teacher, the it is an educational tool designed to provide auditory feedback which helps children learn to read, increase fluency and comprehension.
By speaking into the phone, children hear themselves (auditory feedback) and can make adjustments to fluency, pronunciation and even increase comprehension.
Why Can Simple Plastic Phonics Phones Enhance Reading Instruction?
Phonics phones can be a useful tool for various reading instruction activities. These simple devices are a fabulous tool for reading instruction because:
The phone helps the student ‘hear’ their own voice. The pipe funnels the child’s voice directly to their ear. This intentional focus on hearing sounds helps the students acquire phonemic awareness, a critical element to developing necessary proficient reader phonologic processing pathways.
The phone compels the student to speak in a whisper or very quiet voice. In fact, if the student talks into the phone in a normal volume it is uncomfortably loud. By funneling their voice directly to the ear, the device itself dictates the student speak quietly. It works! (Almost all students automatically correct themselves to a whisper but a few with exceptionally loud voices may need a demonstration.)
The phone improves the student’s focus and attention because they are intentionally listening to their own voice. Both the physical presence of the phone and the sound funneling attributes help the student pay attention and listen carefully to what they are saying when they read. The phones improve the students focus on their own task and are less apt to be distracted by what their neighbor is saying/reading.
The phones help maintain classroom ‘quiet’ by reducing the overall noise level. Students must speak softly, or else they blast their own ears. This allows an entire classroom of students to quietly read orally without disturbing each other. The phones keep ‘noisy’ readers quiet so they do not disturb their neighbors. This ‘noise management’ aspect of the phones provides a fantastic tool for classroom teachers.
As an added bonus, it appears most students like using these effective tools. Feedback from many teachers across a wide range of grade levels indicates their students “love the phones”, “thought they were the neatest things”, “reach for the phones”, “voluntarily use the phones” and even “went bonkers for the phones”.
The phones may function as a tool to provide a level of privacy that is particularly important for struggling and adolescent students. This privacy may help struggling readers overcome their reluctance to read out loud. Many times older students who struggle with reading avoid out loud reading because they are self conscious and embarrassed to have their peers hear them read. This creates a catch-22 situation where the students who absolutely need to practice to build reading skills avoid practice for social reasons. The phones allow the students to practice necessary out loud reading without others hearing them. In a mixed level classroom, be sure ALL the students use the phones for all reading practice so struggling readers are not singled out. Avoid the situation where students perceive only the ‘slow’ readers use the phone
Crystal Clear Auditory Feedback. The phone helps the student ‘hear’ their own voice. The pipe funnels the child’s voice directly to their ear. This intentional focus on hearing sounds helps the students acquire phonemic awareness, a critical element to developing necessary proficient reader phonologic processing pathways.
Self Monitored Reading Rate, Phrasing and Expression (sound, duration, pitch and stress)--The phone improves the student’s focus and attention because they are intentionally listening to their own voice. Both the physical presence of the phone and the sound funneling attributes help the student pay attention and listen carefully to what they are saying when they read. The phones improve the students focus on their own task and are less apt to be distracted by what their neighbor is saying/reading.
Build Confidence in Reading and Comprehension
Improve Self-Esteem for All Levels of Readers
Increase Reading Fluency and Comprehension
Fun Motivation to Read
Opportunities to Read Aloud Daily in the Classroom without Disrupting Others
Phonemic Awareness (PA) Activities:
The phones are an ideal tool for phonemic awareness activities. The tube design funnels sound directly to the ear and tends to block out other background noise. Not only do the phones likely boost physical hearing they also directly focus the child on listening to and hearing sounds. When a child holds a phone, they intentionally listen to the sound coming out the earpiece. This direct focus on sound is vital to developing necessary phonemic awareness, the ability to hear, recognize and distinguish the sound structure of our language. For additional information on phonemic awareness
What Is Auditory Feedback?
Auditory Feedback is the task of hearing the sound of one’s own voice while speaking, which enables adjustments in pronunciation, clarity and the rhythm of speech.
Auditory Feedback is used in speech,
language, auditory processing and reading
How Does the Auditory System Work?
The auditory system is comprised of three components; the outer, middle, and inner ear, all of which work together to transfer sounds from the environment to the brain.
The Outer Ear includes the portion of the ear that we see and the ear canal.
The Middle Ear is composed of the eardrum and the cavity, which houses the ossicular chain (the connection from the middle ear to the inner ear).
The Inner Ear is composed of the sensory organ for hearing—the cochlea.
In the human ear, a sound wave is transmitted through four separate mediums along the auditory system before a sound is perceived: in the outer ear—air, in the middle ear— mechanical, in the inner ear liquid and to the brain—neural.
Why is Auditory Feedback Important?
The Auditory Feedback Loop is basically the process of saying what you hear and hearing what you say. When there is something that breaks down in that loop several learning activities become compromised. Things like concentration, reading and speech are at risk for full development. In addition, the child with a compromised Auditory Feedback Loop can have low self-esteem and confidence as well as heightened anxiety.
Even children without a breakdown in their system can benefit from enhanced Auditory Feedback. Hearing their own pronunciation, pace and fluctuation while speaking or reading allow children to adjust and correct what they hear and say.
Aim to optimise the audio-vocal loop’s operating ability. Forbrain aims to deliver one's voice directly via bone structure
The audio-vocal loop or Auditory feedback loop
This is the natural process by which every individual perceives, analyzes, assimilates and continuously adjusts the information individually received and produced through sound.
The NRP Report Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction - Summary Report
The NIFL publication Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read
** There is limited evidence demonstrating Forbrain serves as an altered auditory feedback Device to enhance our active listening to our own voice at home
Escera, C., López-Caballero, F., Gorina-Careta, N. (2018). The Potential Effect of Forbrain as an Altered Auditory Feedback Device. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 61(4), 801–810. https://doi.org/10.1044/2017_JSLHR-S-17-0072
Sun, J., Chen, C., Zhang, M., Dou, N., Shuxing, L. I., Dan, L. I. (2017). Speech-auditory feedback training on cognitive dysfunctions instrokepatients. Chinese Journal of Behavioral Medicine and Brain Science, 26(6), 524-528.
Escera, C., Gorina-Careta, N., & López-Caballero, F. (2018). The potential use of Forbrain® in stuttering: A single-case study. Anuario de Psicología, 48(2), 51-58.
Shuxing, L. I., Sun, J., Sun,D. M., Chen, C.,(2017). Nursing Effect of Forbrain® Brain Cognitive Training on Cognitive Dysfunction among Patients with Stroke. Anuario de Psicología, 48(2), 51-58.
Sun Jinju, Chen Changxiang, Zhang Min, Dou Na, Li Shuxing, Li Dan. (2017). Speech-auditory feedback training (Forbrain®) on Cognitive Dysfunctions in Stroke Patient, Journal of Behavioral Medicine and Brain Science, June 2017, Vol.26, No.6
Carles Escera, PhD, Professor. (2014). A scientific single case study on speech, auditory processing and attentional strengthening with Forbrain. Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior (IR3C) and Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology University of Barcelona
Carmen María Gómez Guillermo, Máster en Neuropsicología y Educación. (2018). Study of Speech Fluency, Memory and Attention with Forbrain. Universidad Internacional de La Rioja Máster Universitario en Neuropsicología y Educación
Beatriz Aguilar Guerrero, Language teacher. (2015). Forbrain’s effect on the reading process. UNIR (Universidad Internacional de La Rioja - Universidad en Internet)
Beatriz Aguilar Guerrero. (2015). Forbrain®’s effects on the reading speed and comprehension ability. A study conducted at the Mediterrani de La Ampolla School (Tarragona, Spain) .
Dr. M.Estaki (Esteki), Assistant professor. (2017). The effect of sound therapy with Forbrain® on reading skills and auditory discrimination for students with reading difficulties. Journal of garmian university. 5. 454-464. 10.24271/garmian.383.
By supporting the Auditory Feedback Loop the Toobaloo can increase reading and speech: