Basic concepts of Audio Psycho-Phonology

The French throat-nose-oorspecialist, Professor Dr. Alfred Tomatois (Photo: With wife Lena), is the founder of the Wetenschapstak Audio-Psycho-Phonology (APF). APF describes the interrelationship between ear, speech formation, body and psyche. Tomatois developed an extremely efficient treatment method for problems of auditory perception that are at the basis of many disorders. We offer an overview of the method. Click on the header to continue reading

 

The three Tomatis Laws
The ear affects the sound quality of the voice. This is the conclusion of the Parisian Ear, Nose and Throat physician Professor Alfred Tomatis (1920 -2001). Two completely different fields of work had prompted him to engage in this subject in depth:

 

● As early as the 40s of last century, Tomatis recorded the curves of the auditory threshold of workers of the French Air Force (SFECMAS), who had been exposed to extreme noise in the halls of the aircraft maintenance facilities. Besides noticing hearing problems, he also noticed an impairment in the vocal tone and vocal expression.

 

● Opera singers who came into his practice also complained about vocal problems. They as well were exposed to a high level of noise caused by their own singing or the accompanying orchestra.

 

Tomatis conducted a series of experiments examining in detail the relationship between voice and hearing. His conclusions were finally confirmed in 1957 by Raoul Housson and were scientifically recognized at the Sorbonne University. He named them “The three Tomatis Laws”.

 

The statements of the three Tomatis Laws
  1. The voice contains as overtones only those frequencies that the ear can hear.
  2. When giving the ear the chance to hear frequencies that were previously not or not well perceived correctly again, they instantly and unconsciously reappear in the voice.
  3. When repeated over a certain period of time, acoustic stimulation leads to a final change of hearing, and consequently the phonation.
The „Electronic Ear“ and the „Brain Activator“

In order to be able to train his patients’ sense of hearing and voice according to the 3rd Tomatis Law, Tomatis developed a device that became known as the „Electronic Ear“ (EE). The operating principle of the EE has proven itself well since its introduction and can be found to date in all follow-up versions and models, also in the “Brain Activator”, which is currently being used. With this device it is possible not only to treat vocal problems, but to address a wide range of complaints specifically.

The effect of the Listening Training
The Tomatis Listening Training is a therapy aimed at bringing people (back) to their inner balance. It harmonizes and optimizes the cooperation between ear and brain, which has a positive effect on the entire human body.
 
The Tomatis Listening Training helps people to open up and resolves unconscious, yet stressful problems from the past and present. It enables an active turning towards the outer and inner world and their harmonisation. The Tomatis training thereby creates a foundation for other possible supplementing therapies, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc.

What happens during the Training

The Ear
Metaphorically speaking, the ear works like an information highway to the brain. Coming from the outside, sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate. The fine auditory ossicles of the middle ear (hammer, anvil, stirrup) guide the impulse towards the cochlea.
At this point, Tomatis contradicted the doctrine used to date. In his view, the acoustic impulses go directly through the eardrum and into the bone surrounding the ear (petrous bone) to the cochlea. Here, the acoustic signals are transformed into neuronal impulses that are transmitted via the auditory nerve to the brain for processing.
Besides the cochlea, three bony semicircular canals (vestibules) are part of the inner ear. They are responsible for the sense of balance; they detect stimuli of position and acceleration; and they send this information over the nerve tract to the brain.
The significance of the ear for important skills
● A person controls his or her verbal and vocal expression through the ear and through the processing of those acoustic impressions in the brain. This applies to overall communication as well as to singing, reading and writing. All these skills are dependent on a good sense of hearing.
● The vestibule helps people with spatial orientation and enables balance as well as walking upright. There is a close relationship between spatial and organizational structures, timing and a sense of rhythm, gross and fine motor skills and a good functioning of the organ of equilibrium.
● Auditory impressions influence the nervous system that is not controllable by will (vegetative nervous system). Constant noise, for example, causes stress and may cause sleep disorders or cardiovascular diseases. Unlike the eye, the ear cannot be “closed”. Therefore, the relation between outer stimuli and their effect on the body may be a more sensitive one than with other orga
Hearing through the bones
A person can receive acoustic stimuli externally through the air, as well as through his or her bones. Already in the womb, the foetus receives impulses through the mother’s voice, which he perceives as a very high pitched “crackling noise” or “hiss”. The female pelvis acts as a resonance body. Tomatis saw a natural human need in this initially one-sided communication between mother and foetus. According to Tomatis, it is this “maternal monologue” that instils in a human being the desire to communicate and makes him become a social being.
The listening training takes advantage of the ability to receive auditory impulses through the bone. It is done with the Brain Activator (BA) and a special headset. This headset transmits acoustic signals, as usual, directly to the ear. Additionally, it has a “bone sounder” that transmits the sound directly to the cranial bone from where it is directed straight to the inner ear. This form of sound transmission is called bone conduction.
Micro-gymnastics for the ear
The Brain Activator (BA) acts as a training device for the ears. It contains two separately adjustable amplifiers which are referred to as channels. They are alternately active. In this way, the training person receives music, his own or his mother’s voice. In one channel, the low frequencies are accentuated, in the other channel, the high frequencies. The switching of channels is done irregularly and is not predictable for the brain. So the BA is constantly working with a kind of surprise. Therefore, the micro-fine muscles of the auditory ossicles are in a permanent state of training between tension and relaxation. This way the inner attention of the listening person is promoted and one is being encouraged to listen consciously.
The listening training teaches a person to pay attention. Thereby, the fundamental attitude towards one’s life is influenced positively. This transformation not only affects the cognitive abilities, but also expresses itself in body posture and mind-set. People who listen are ideally focussed and “upright”.
Stimulation of the brain
An important element of the listening training is the stimulation of the brain through high tones. This is preferably done by rehearing the (filtered) mother’s voice. If that recording is not available, it is substituted with high frequencies from music by Mozart. The listening training makes it possible to compensate for disorders that already might have appeared during the prenatal or later development phase. For this purpose, the training person acoustically is brought back to the prenatal development phase. This is done during the passive phase.
During the following active phase, high tones are also used as needed, but to a lesser extent.
The passive phase
During the first, so-called passive phase of the listening training, the person only listens. In general, the person experiences a sound bath of high frequencies. Tomatis used, if possible, a recording of the mother’s voice, which through the “Electronic Ear” (today: Brain Activator) and the use of filters, sounds just the way the unborn child has heard it. If the mother’s voice is not available, music by Mozart, from which a large part of the low frequencies has been filtered out, is used. Additionally, unfiltered Gregorian chants are offered, having a calming effect.
Whether during the passive phase a person returns to the prenatal development phase or not, depends on the training goal of each individual. A listening training must always be adjusted individually and its effectiveness assessed. The passive phase represents a time of inner processing /regeneration and maturing.
When in the passive phase a return to the prenatal development stage has taken place, this period ends with the so-called “acoustic birth”. From a therapeutic point of view, the person concerned once again fulfils the transition from intrauterine hearing in the liquid medium of the womb to the postnatal adaptation to air.
 
The active phase

The second phase, also called the active phase, is characterised by sessions in which the training person himself sings, reads aloud or repeats words and sentences. Additionally, music by Mozart and Gregorian chants are listened to. The concentrated listening that was practised during the passive phase can be actively implemented and integrated. These practical exercises pave the way to better communication and open up possibilities for a “more colourful” self expression. They are the active turning of the self to the outside for contact with the world.

Who benefits from Therapy?

Listening therapy helps alleviate the problems of modern life
The demands of daily life (at work) have increased greatly. Listening therapy alleviates problems such as:
Listening therapy for successful careers
 
Communication skills, mastery of foreign languages and active social skills are necessary to succeed in the modern workplace. To this end, listening therapy supports
 
 
Listening therapy for personal development
 
Listening therapy promotes:
  • (Self-)observation and the relationship to the outside world
  • Concentration
  • Proprioception (better perception of one's own body)
  • Creativity
  • Responsible behaviour
  • Processing personal traumas
  • Overcoming the past
  • The development of personal abilities
Listening therapy helps also alleviate . . .
  • Psychosomatic and vegetative problems such as sleep and eating disorders 
Ideal course of listening therapy
  1. Initial listening therapy of 12 days – break of 6 to 9 weeks
  2. Follow up of 5 days – break of 6 to 9 weeks
  3. Follow up of 5 days – break of 6 to 9 weeks
  4. if necessary, more follow up therapy until the goal has been reached
 
During listening therapy, listening tests are performed at regular intervals in order to plan subsequent therapy. One listening unit lasts 30 minutes. A day of listening therapy consists of three therapy sessions of 3 listening units each (= 4.5 hours of listening training daily). During listening therapy, listeners can sleep, relax or work creatively (paint, draw, do puzzles, handicrafts etc.). Reading, writing, eating, talking, watching television, computer games etc. have a counterproductive effect.
 
The resting phases between the week-long or two week-long listening sessions are important for the long-term integration of new impulses and improvements achieved. They are to be understood as a time of maturing and are thus important to the success of the therapy.
Listening attentively in the different phases
The basis of listening therapy is a psychological listening test. The test indicates a person's hearing perception, bodily feeling, vitality, language processing, and communication and concentration skills. Using this analysis and personal goals, an individual listening programme is prepared. It is divided into two phases:
 
The passive phase
In this phase, hearing is stimulated with the help of a Brain Activator using special headphones with electronically filtered music or the mother's voice. The passive phase is exclusively receptive.
  
The active phase
In the active phase, vocal, reading and singing exercises are added to the receptive listening units. In this way, new listening habits can be implemented and integrated.
The duration and intensity of the listening phases are individually tailored according to need. It is important to maintain a regular listening schedule.
 
The costs of the therapy provided by Mozart-Brain-Lab
Initial listening test, inclusive a detailed briefing
55,00 €
Listening test with briefing 27,50 €
A 30-minute treatment 7,80 €
30-minute treatment from the 151st treatment 4,60 €
Media Costs 75,00 €
Night therapy per night 20,00 €
Sound exercices (exercices to realise without equipment) 10,00 €
Report 25,00 €
 
Discounts:
Every third child of a family will be treated for free.
The fourth child will be treated for only € 4,60 per (30 mn) session. Listening tests and consultations are charged the regular rate.
One parent is entitled to a free accompanying listening program.