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Stimulation through movement and filtered music: Tomatis, Neurologic music therapy, Integrated Listening system

General overview

Method developed by Alfred Tomatis in the 1980s. There are 2000 practitioners in the world. It is a neurosensory stimulation through listening (modified music and voice programs) with the aim of capturing the brain's attention and developing motor, emotional and cognitive faculties. 

Integrated Listening was founded in Denver, USA in 2007. It is a neurotechnology company that integrates music, movement and language exercises to improve brain function.
It is inspired by the Tomatis method and combines movement exercises that simultaneously stimulate the different sensory systems (especially visual and vestibular) in order to improve sensory-motor functions which, although fragile, often disrupt other learning.

Neurologic music therapy 
The latest neuroscience research shows the effects of musical training on the brain. It can therefore be used as cognitive, sensorimotor and language training for patients (children, adolescents, adults) suffering from neurological disorders.

Main objectives of the method

Improving listening: Tomatis distinguishes the process of listening from that of hearing (hearing being a passive process, listening being an active and voluntary process). 
For Tomatis, training the listening function is important to optimize learning, language skills, speech, voice, coordination and rhythm.

The iLs method integrates filtered music (classical music, filtered on certain frequency bands corresponding to the desired stimulation) with headphones that allow listening to music (through the ears and by bone conduction), movement and language exercises with the aim of improving brain function, especially the auditory process (but which would influence more widely the motor and cognitive areas).
Sensory integration: to facilitate auditory stimulation processing.
Self-regulation, regulation of emotions: helps to regulate the physical and emotional state, promotes trust, socialization, etc.
Language & Cognitive: improves comprehension, language, reading and higher executive functions

Neurologic music therapy 
The music therapist facilitates the client's exploration, self-expression and non-verbal communication through music.  The musical interaction with the therapist leads the client to discover things about himself or herself, and then to externalize, organize and reintegrate thoughts and feelings.

Specificities of the method

On average, 2h/day of listening to transformed music - for 1 to 2 weeks / to be repeated on average 3 times
Program adapted to individual needs, determined by a 60-90min listening test

Prerequisite: Listening test to identify current listening skills and areas for improvement.
Daily listening for 2 hours of sound supports (Mozart's music, Gregorian chants, waltz, mother's voice, nursery rhymes, etc.) which are transformed by the "Electronic Ear" (a listening gymnastics device), which will filter the sounds and thus stimulate listening through air conduction (headphones) and bone conduction of sound (conduction of sounds through the bones of the skull).

The electronic ear
It is a listening gymnastics device, which will filter sounds and thus stimulate listening through air conduction (conduction of sound through the air by means of headphones) and bone conduction of sound (conduction of sound through the bones of the skull). 
How it works: when the sound has an amplitude below a certain level, the low frequencies are amplified while the medium and high frequencies are filtered out. This happens on channel 1 of the Electronic Ear. However, when the amplitude increases just above a tipping point, the low frequencies are suppressed while the rest of the frequency spectrum is amplified. This occurs on channel 2. The Electronic Ear also contains mechanisms that can establish a delay between bone and air conduction of sound. The passage from one channel to another can be delayed on air conduction. 
Result: the muscles of the middle ear are trained to regulate tympanic tension and promote optimal listening to sounds and a better perception of the different frequencies by the brain.

ISL programs generally last 30 to 60 minutes and are performed 2 to 5 times a week. Each session consists of four 15-minute music tracks combined with movement activities (preferably done at the beginning), followed by listening alone in a quiet environment. (a session can be done in 2 times).

There are different programs depending on the objective / difficulties of the child : 
Sensory and motor program (60 sessions)
Concentration and Attention Program (40 sessions)
Reading and Hearing Treatment Program (40 sessions)
Optimal Performance Programs I and II (two versions, 24 sessions each)
Emotional regulation & relaxation program (with or without singing) 10 sessions
Each program contains the full spectrum of sound frequencies of human hearing (20-20,000 Hz.), but the duration of each frequency band varies from program to program, in order to emphasize some more than others.

For example, a child with reading or language difficulties may listen to specific pieces of music that emphasize what is called the "language frequency range", 750-4,000 Hz, to improve the perception and discrimination of language sounds needed for decoding and phonemic awareness. These skills are essential for reading fluency.

The program can easily be done at home (with or without supervision by a therapist), but requires a certain amount of rigor.















ILs is possible in babies, the duration is of course adapted to the child's age. 

Movement exercises include a combination of balance, visual reinforcement and self-regulatory activities.
The program includes a combination of activities to improve eye-hand coordination, crossing the midline, balance and visual tracking.
There is a programme called "initial development" for those who need to develop simple motor skills. The aim of these activities is to strengthen muscles, the centre of the body, posture, control and stability, motor coordination, and basic eye tracking. Depending on the stage of development, they can be performed lying down, sitting on the balance board or standing on the balance board with support and simple visual tracking tasks. 
Gradually, the movements become more complex and include a combination of multisensory activities, and cognitive activities (e.g., numeracy) are also integrated to create a more complex environment.

Neurologic music therapy: 

The therapist may use so-called "receptive" music, i.e. listening to recorded music, followed or not by discussion/verbalization, possibly associated with another medium (drawing, dance, etc.) or other techniques (visualization, for example).

Most often there is some verbalization, depending on the patient, his pathology, his age, etc. 

Sessions can be individual or group and rarely last less than 15 minutes (with toddlers for example), rarely more than 2 hours (with large groups). Individual sessions last on average 30 to 60 minutes. 

Who is this method for ?
  • Patients with language disorders (e.g. aphasia), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, stroke, head injuries, cerebral palsy and other neurological conditions that may affect cognition, communication or movement (e.g. muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis...).

What parents say about it

Numerous forums on which to find testimonials:

"I would like to give a testimony about the Tomatis method.

After much, much hesitation, because indeed the cost is not negligible, we took the plunge and Marceau made a first listening session of 30 hours before the Christmas holidays.

Well, we are quite amazed at the progress and so is the teacher.

Marceau is much calmer, at home and at school, the teacher put a note in the notebook telling me that he is much more receptive, that he understands better what is expected of him, that he is very attentive in class.  »

"My nine-year-old son just went through the Tomatis Method. I was very sceptical at the beginning, very suspicious (I was afraid of a sect) and I even almost stopped several times during the treatment. It requires a lot of time and investment on the part of both the parents and the child. I am very happy to have held on. He had difficulties at school, concentration, always seemed to be on a cloud. Tomatis' preliminary test revealed that he had a listening problem. After two series of sessions ( 20 X 2 hours of listening to Mozart and Gregorian chants all the same...) the results are impressive. He is more attentive, involved, concentrated and his school results have clearly improved. A third and last series of sessions is planned for this fall, I am relieved and enthusiastic. However, be careful to choose your centre carefully (I chose the one in Rolle), some offer quick and easy results, even to do the method from home. There is nothing easy or quick, you have to invest yourself, it takes time, it is a sacrifice for the parents, but a great gift for the child. It's worth the effort! »

Neurologic music therapy: 

Corinne Villegas is the mother of Hugo, 11 years old, with pervasive developmental disorders and psychomotor retardation. "Hugo is in IME. All week, we ask him to invest a lot. But we wanted to give him the opportunity to let go and achieve well-being. Since January, a music therapist has been coming to the house every Thursday for half an hour. We feel that he relaxes and enjoys himself, because he talks a lot about it. He sings Gainsbourg's Couleur café in the shower and easily takes the guitar to play it. Of course, it's still a bit early, but we hope that it will also serve to improve his ability to communicate. »

Scientific references


"The Tomatis Method and the Genesis of Listening" by Timothy M. Gilmor.

The study showed three things: 
The Tomatis method improves communication (comprehension and expression) by using sounds that cause the inner ear to react. 
There is an improvement in concentration and cognitive abilities, due to Corti sensory receptors that are reactive to high frequency sounds. 
There is an improvement in the emotional well-being of patients due to the stimulation reminiscent of prenatal life. 

Neurologic music system : 

"Neurologic music therapy: The beneficial effects of music making on neurorehabilitation" by Altenmuller and Schlaug.üller-Schlaug/a46c80675c89b3568ffc56650515f6bcfd21f5c8

The study shows that music facilitates neurorehabilitation. They are studying rhythmic auditory stimulation and melodic therapy to show how they act on the brain. 

"Music-based interventions in neurological rehabilitation" led by Alksi J Sihvonenärkämö/e2a7ac66adb1f8d5fab26a534a492391ff60da93
The study shows that for Parkinson's disease and epilepsy, the method is effective. Musical interventions can affect various functions such as motor, speech or cognitive abilities and are therefore suitable for a wide variety of disorders. 

Rhythm and music affect the plasticity of many brain areas:
Researchers have shown that the processing and production of music is distributed throughout the cortex, subcortex and cerebellum (Peretz and Zatorre, 2005). The areas involved with music perception and production are not only music-related networks; they overlap with non-music networks (Thaut, 2005, Patel, 2011).
Bengtsson et al (2009) demonstrated that auditory rhythm activates the motor areas of the brain, including the pre-motor cortex, the extra motor areas, the pre-supplementary motor area and the lateral cerebellum.
The results of research in musical neuroscience have led to the development of neurological music therapy techniques that lead to cortical plasticity allowing progress in rehabilitation. Indeed, numerous works have demonstrated a link between rhythm and motor function. Auditory rhythm has thus been used as an effective treatment in motor rehabilitation (Thaut, 2005). Two factors contribute to the success of auditory rhythm in rehabilitation (1) rhythmic synchronization and (2) this rhythmic marking used systematically can facilitate neuroplasticity.
Listening to rhythmic sequences engages the cortical areas of movement, even in the absence of movement or movement planning. 
Synchronization between auditory rhythm and movement occurs at an unconscious level (Kenyon and Thaut, 2000, Tecchio et al., 2000) and also works in patients with cerebellar damage (Molinari et al., 2005), suggesting that the distribution of rhythm processing in the brain allows functioning despite damage or atypical functioning of the cerebellum, such as in autism.

Any remarks or comments ?

This work is based on a collaborative approach to sharing research and family experience.

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