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Posted: Jun 13, 2006 17:53

MUSIC FOR YOUR BRAIN

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By: Judith E. Bessette, EdD
414-581-9146


Whether autistic or artistic…age 8 or age 88…it appears that virtually everyone has something to learn from an auditory stimulation program called The Listening Program (TLP).

Recently, I learned about TLP from two practitioners who recommend this program regularly to help both children and adults with ADHD, ADD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress reduction and even autism. Advanced Brain Technologies (ABT), the company that released the program in 1999, describes its uses in less clinical terms, saying you can move beyond barriers and maximize your potential with improvements in:

  1. Auditory Processing and Attention

  2. Communication and Sensory Integration

  3. Concentration and Learning

  4. Social Skills and Self-Esteem


TLP is designed for use at home and uses specially treated classical music and nature sounds to improve auditory processing. Over 2,000 authorized providers make the system available internationally for less than $600. The fee includes the music on CDs, a 112 page manual and both email and phone support from the provider.

So, where did this program come from and why does it work? To address these questions, think about what we now know about the brain. Over the past 20 years, brain research has provided scientists with more information about the brain than the sum of all that was previously known or understood. Today, we think of the brain as a dynamic organ and understand that appropriate stimuli can lead to the development of both new neural pathways and increased capacity. We also know that the brain is not fully developed in our young until they reach twenty-something.

TLP embraces the notion that the senses feed the brain - and that by employing specialized sound the auditory system can be enhanced or even re-trained. In other words, the program uses the brain-ear connection to correct auditory distortion or improve clarity. The program uses psycho-acoustically modified music that is highly structured and produces organized patterns of sound waves. This music stimulates or exercises the brain, thus improving a wide range of functions.

While it may seem obvious that this program can help children and adults with auditory processing problems, it may be less obvious that auditory distortion can also affect the vestibular system (which allows us to stand upright, maintain balance and move through space) and the visual system, leading to problems with sensory integration. Correcting an auditory problem may lead to improved writing skills, enhanced reading skills, better motor function and even a superior tennis game!

The research behind TLP comes from the work of the French-born Otolaryngologist, Alfred Tomatis, MD, whose 50 + years of clinical experience and anecdotal evidence shows that sound stimulations can provide valuable remediation and developmental training for people of all ages. ABT has conducted university research, school pilot studies and case reports that consistently demonstrate two - three year gains for many children on standardized tests.

As the body of knowledge about the brain continues to grow, the results support the efficacy of The Listening Program. New studies from the University of Wisconsin on brain plasticity, the capacity of the brain to develop and change, examine the effects of both medication and meditation. Studying Tibetan Buddhist monks, researchers have demonstrated how meditation alters brain function.

Using TLP is easy. It requires a high quality CD player and headphones as well as a comfortable place for the listener to sit and relax. The core program, the Classic Kit, is used 5 days a week for 15 - 30 minutes a day over the course of 8 to 10 weeks. The full cycle is then repeated to maximize its benefit. Many providers recommend revisiting the cycle on an annual basis. Additional CDs are available for special needs. Both clinicians who recommend the program, and the providers who sell the program, point out that TLP is even more effective when completed in concert with other modalities such as psychotherapy, speech or occupational therapy.

And the down side? Well, I'm not sure that I found one. If nothing else, the listener will have some quiet time and exposure to great music. The potential upside would make it worth the time and investment involved.

About the Presenting Company:
As an authorized provider of The Listening Program, partners from Brain Breakthrough, Inc. presented their work with light and sound at a workshop held during the recent IECA Conference in Chicago. Alice Nixon, LCSW is a local psychotherapist and Monica Bryne O'Malley, RN is a nurse in Ireland. Brain Breakthrough offers integrative therapies designed to assist in recovering, developing or expanding the mental and emotional skills necessary for attention, concentration, learning, creative thinking and emotional well-being. Contact Alice Nixon, alicenixon@aol.com, for more information. You can get information on the web about ABT, including a list of providers. Melissa East is a certified provider who was helpful in writing this article, www.HoneybeeListening.com.


About the Author:
Judi is an educational consultant based in Milwaukee, WI. She has a temporary office this summer in Hope, ID. Her focus is on troubled teens.





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