SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATIONS OF THE TOMATIS METHOD
Ninety percent (90%) of the sensory messages that stimulate our brain, including movement and touch, involve the ear!
MUSIC & NEUORPLASTICITY
Music is one of the richest human emotional, sensory-motor, and cognitive experiences. It involves listening, watching, feeling, moving and coordinating, remembering, and expecting. A large number of cortical and subcortical brain regions are involved in music listening.
Music listening is a powerful tool to engage multisensory and motor networks, induce changes within these networks, and foster links between distant, but functionally related brain regions. These effects of music, together with music’s ability to tap into the emotion and reward system in the brain, can be used to facilitate and enhance therapeutic approaches geared toward rehabilitating and restoring neurological dysfunctions and impairments of an acquired or congenital brain disorder. Research has confirmed the changes in functional networks and structural components of the brain in response to short- and long-term music listening activities (Altenmüller & Schlaug, 2015).
The brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life is what we term Neuroplasticity. The brain is an extremely organized and coordinated structure which has the innate ability to adapt and change in consequence to actions and stimuli from the environment. Musical activity has proven to be a powerful stimulus for this kind of brain adaptation, or brain plasticity (Wan and Schlaug, 2010). Neuroplasticity essentially allows neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in the environment, as well as to compensate for injury and disease.
The ear acts as a sensory integration system. The correcting action of the Tomatis® Method acts simultaneously on the Three Core Functions of the Ear: Balance, Energy, and Hearing.
THE BALANCE FUNCTION
Balance depends on the body’s vestibule system, a part of the inner ear that is the sensory system, the primary contributor to our sense of balance and spatial orientation. The ear is therefore involved in controlling posture and maintaining balance. Through its action on the vestibule, the Tomatis® Method allows the body to regain verticality by repositioning the skeleton. Under the sustained effect of the the Tomatis® Method listening sessions, the brain via the vestibule through both the right and left ears is coordinated. As a result, motor responses are noticeably improved (less chaotic), and become more fluid and better organized. One can easily understand the beneficial effect the Tomatis® Method can have on movement disorders. Additionally, because of the intricate network of connections to the brain and the vestibule’s essential role in balance and timing, the Tomatis® Method can also help support the integration of rhythm, critical to both music and language learning.
THE ENERGY FUNCTION
Sound is a vital part of natural human functioning. The ear plays an important role in stimulating or energizing the brain and the body. When the middle ear transfers sound to the cochlea (which is in the inner ear and contains the nerves for hearing), it receives the sound in the form of vibrations. These sound vibrations are then converted into nerve impulses which are taken up to the brain to be interpreted through the auditory nerve to then stimulate or energize the brain, and thus, the body.
THE AUDITORY FUNCTION
When hearing is disturbed, this creates not only problems of discrimination, spatialization and auditory lateralization, but also a loss of the ability to isolate an auditory message from surrounding noise. In this situation, the subject finds herself exposed to a mass of information that she receives with varying degrees of distortion. Understanding messages then require substantial efforts, causing errors, ever increasing fatigue, irritability and, finally withdrawal. Then the environment is experienced as problematic. In these circumstances attention and memory suffer.
Sounds that are rich in high frequency harmonics stimulate the vast neural network called the “reticular formation”, a set of interconnected nuclei that are located throughout the brainstem which controls the overall activity level of the brain. The reticular formation is not anatomically well defined due to that fact that it involves neurons located in different parts of the brain. However, its functions can be classified into four categories: motor control, sensory control, visceral control, and control of consciousness.
The richer music is in high frequency harmonics, the more effective they are stimulating the brain.
WHAT RESULTS ARE OBTAINED WITH THE TOMATIS METHOD?
The research continues to grow as the areas of application of the The Tomatis® Method are extended. The acoustic sensory communication plays a key role in human development and the brain and as a result connects to a broad range of disorders. The scientific partners with whom we work include clinicians, research institutes, hospitals, universities, specialized associations and foundations.
Research results can be located on the official Tomatis website: https://www.tomatis.com/en/research-and-resources.
Dr. Marvin is a Licensed Tomatis® Practitioner.