3.3 What Other Sound Therapies Are There?
What other Sound Therapy programs are based on Dr Tomatis’ discoveries?
Tomatis’ discoveries have proliferated in recent decades and spread, like any good idea, into various disciplines. The unique element of Tomatis’s discoveries is the gating and filtration of sound for the purpose of reactivating the middle ear muscles and other aural processes.
Many adaptations of the Tomatis method have now occurred, taking the program in various directions such as language learning and remedial education. Some such programs acknowledge their Tomatis origins while others do not.
These programs are primarily practitioner based and time limited, so they endeavor to achieve results within a certain time frame. It is then hoped that these results will be sustained after treatment ends.
Most focus on children and learning difficulties rather than adults and the hearing improvement field.
This is where the Joudry method offered by Sound Therapy International is unique. In this method, detailed educational materials are provided to empower the end user. In addition, the method has a primary focus on the area of tinnitus, hearing and other hard to treat ear related conditions such as hyperacusis, chronic blocked ear and cocktail party syndrome. This self-help method also ensures sustainable results through long term listening.
How has our understanding of tinnitus evolved to explain the effect of Sound Therapy?
The neurophysiological model of tinnitus defines tinnitus as a process occurring in the brain, while the ear plays only a minor role.
1. Pawel J. Jastreboff, Ph.D. described the Neurophysiological Model of Tinnitus in 1991. Jastreboff suggests that emotional processing is the major element causing tinnitus distress, and that this processing is a subconscious occurrence, due to certain patterns being generated in the brain. Jastreboff developed Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) as a way of redirecting the attention to reduce the impact of tinnitus.
2. Stephen Porges, the Director of the Brain-Body Center, at the University of Illinois at Chicago has developed Polyvagal theory which explains how the vagus nerve acts through the autonomic nervous system to control our social-emotional processes.
3. According to Dr. Porges, many children with developmental disabilities are in a state of high anxiety. As a result, it is difficult for them to attend to the high frequency sounds such as human speech. He developed listening protocols which reduced these reactions by normalising middle ear muscle function. This gives independent confirmation of Tomatis’s claims about the potential to rehabilitate the middle ear muscles.
4. Richard Davidson, Director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, has determined that stimulation of the left brain cortex is responsible for many of the benefits of meditation.
Sound Therapy replicates this left brain stimulation, and achieves similar results. Sound Therapy listeners experience deep inner calm, better focus, and feeling more uplifted and positive, all traits associated with meditation, and left brain stimulation.
5. Brain Plasticity: A new understanding of the interactions between the ear and the brain has emerged as a result of the last few decades of research on brain plasticity.
The Canadian psychologist, Donald Hebb (1949), proposed that memories are stored in the brain in the form of networks of neurons that he called “cell assemblies.”
6. He surmised that through experience (i.e., learning) when presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons fire action potentials together, the strength of the synaptic connections between them is enhanced.
As a result, synaptic associations would grow stronger and tend to persist. In other words: “cells that fire together, wire together.”
7. Mersenich proved the process of neural plasticity through experiments with monkeys where he proved that brain tissue could take over muscle functions for the neighbouring finger if a finger was lost.
8. Decades of research have now confirmed this theory and proven that substantial changes occur, not just in the memory centres but also in the sensory processing areas. The now accepted theory of neuroplasticity, as summarized by Dr Norman Doidge, (2007) holds that thinking, learning, and response to sensory stimuli actually change both the brain’s physical structure and physiological function.
It is because of this potential for brain plasticity that Sound Therapy can alleviate tinnitus be remapping the brain pathways in the auditory system.