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More about the Tomatis® Method

There are many sound therapies available in the US today and all of them claim to have found their base in the founder and originator of Sound Therapy, Dr. A. Tomatis. It is important to know from the outset that the Tomatis® Method is the only program available in the U.S. that provides the full extent of the Tomatis® Effect and contains the three laws for which Dr. Tomatis has received many rewards and acclamations. Many programs claim to be Tomatis® based, which honors this great man for the profound effect that he had in his life on children and adults during his lifetime and beyond. 


Dr. A. Tomatis 

He was a doctor of medicine (Ear, nose, and throat physician) and a specialist in problems with hearing and language. Dr. Tomatis founded, and was the president of, the field of Audio – Psycho- Phonology at the School of Anthropology in Paris. Amongst many awards, he was awarded distinctively by the Paris Academy of Sciences and the Paris Academy of Medicine for creating the “Tomatis® Effect”, which was to be expressed by 3 laws: 


  1. The voice only contains what the ear can hear

  2. If the hearing is modified, the voice is immediately and unconsciously modified. 

  3. It is possible to durably transform phonation when auditive stimulation is maintained over a certain time (the law of duration or permanence) 


Besides these three laws, which are integral for permanent change, the Tomatis® Method includes the normal physical, sensory, and physiological development of a person and also stimulates, with integration, several cranial nerve pathways in the brain. 

The Concept of Listening 

There are 3 functions to the ear: 


1.The function of balance – The vestibule is a part of the inner ear which informs the brain of the slightest body movement, it intervenes therefore in the control of posture and the maintenance of balance – our vestibular system. 


2. The function of Revitalization or Cortical Charge – The ear is very necessary in causing the cortex to be charged and therefore needs to be stimulated. 


3. The function of hearing – When this function is disrupted, difficulties in analysis, accommodation, spatialization or auditive lateralization are caused. The person experiences an influx of information, but perceives it in a distorted manner affecting comprehension, as well as impacting verbal expression. The person becomes fatigued, irritable and finally withdraws.  


Listening is not hearing. Hearing is the ability to discriminate different frequency ranges as they are tested by audiologists. Using the Tomatis® Method we do not work with hearing. Most of the time persons would return from a visit to an audiologist with a perfect hearing score. Listening is the ability to use one’s hearing intentionally and attentively, and in a way that is acceptable on an emotional level, for the purpose of learning and communicating. It is a high level cortical function. Listening can be affected by developmental delays (too frequent occurrences of ear infection in early formative years being one red flag), auditory processing and communicative disorders, and emotional disturbances as well. 


Why Mozart? 

Many families ask us this question and we decided to share with the reader some research and thoughts that have been completed on the use of Mozart. Billie M. Thompson, PhD and Susan R. Andrews Ph.D wrote an article “An Historical Commentary on the Physiological effects of Music: Tomatis, Mozart and Neuropsychology”. This article was published in the “Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science Journal in the July to September issue of 2000. In this article they define very clearly the difference between the Mozart effect and the Tomatis effect as described by the three laws earlier in this writing. It should not be confused with each other, even though Dr. Tomatis knew from his own and others research that Mozart was the music that really suited his program most ideally. The use of Mozart was confirmed in the research by independent researchers (mentioned below) shortly before and after his death. 


J.S. Jenkins wrote an article in April 2001 that was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine Volume 94. The article was simply titled: “The Mozart Effect”. He writes: “Techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance scanning, together with studies on localized brain lesions, have shown that listening to music activates a wide distribution of areas. The primary auditory area lies classically in the transverse and superior temporal gyri, but particular components of musical appreciation involving rhythm, pitch, metre, melody, and timbre are processed in many different areas of the brain.” “A more impressive indication of a Mozart effect is to be seen in epilepsy. In 23 of 29 patients with focal discharges or bursts of generalized spike and wave complexes, who listened to the Mozart sonata K448, there was a significant decrease in epileptiform activity as shown by the electroencephalogram (EEG). In one male, unconscious with status epilepticusm ictal patterns were present 62% of the time, whereas during the exposure to Mozart’s music this value fell to 21%. The fact that these improvements took place even in a comatose demonstrates again that appreciation of the music is not a necessary feature of the Mozart effect.” “In an attempt to determine the physical characteristics which were responsible for the Mozart effect, Hughes and Fino subjected a wide range of music to computer analysis. As many as 81 selections of Mozart, 67 of J C Bach, 67 of J S Bach, 39 of Chopin, and 148 from 55 other composers were analyzed. The characteristic shown by much of Mozart’s music and shared with the two Bach’s was a high degree of long-term periodicity, especially within the 10-60s range.” “Another similarity between the music of Mozart and the two Bach’s was the emphasis on the average power of particular notes, notable G3 (196 Hz), C5 (523 Hz) and B5 (987 Hz). Find below some more recent research on the Tomatis Effect, which provides more information. Researchers are still debating whether the Mozart Effect is what it says, but Dr. Tomatis combined this particular music with his Tomatis effect found in his EE (electronic ear) to provide us with a magnificent tool to use today and that is after almost 60 years still unsurpassed in power. 


1. Effects of Musical Tempo and Mode on Arousal, Mood, and Spatial Abilities 

This research was completed by Gabriela Husain, William Forde Thompson, and E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto and published in the journal of music Perception the winter edition of 2002. A Mozart Sonata was performed by a skilled pianist and recorded. This recorded file was edited to produce four versions that varied in tempo (fast or slow) and mode (major or minor). Participants listened to a single version and completed measures of spatial ability, arousal, and mood. Performance on the spatial task was superior after listening to music at a fast rate rather than a slow tempo, and when the music was presented in a major rather than a minor mode. Tempo manipulations affected arousal but not mood, whereas mood manipulations affected mood but not arousal. Changes in arousal and mood paralleled variation on the spatial task. The findings are consistent with the view that the “Mozart effect” is a consequence of changes in arousal and mood. 


2. The influence of auditory background stimulation (Mozart’s sonata K. 448) on visual brain activity. 

This research was conducted by Norbert Jausovec and Katarina Habe in Slovenia and was published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology 51 in 2004. Twenty individuals solved a visual oddball task in two response conditions: while listening to the abovementioned Mozart sonata and while listening to nothing. The recorded event-related potentials (ERP) were analyzed in the time and frequency domains. In the music response condition the ERP peak latencies on the left hemisphere increased, whereas on the right hemisphere a decrease of peak latencies as compared with the silence response condition was observed. In the theta, lower-1 alpha and gamma band increases in induced event related coherences were observed while respondents solved the oddball task and listened to music, whereas a decoupling of brain areas in the gamma band was observed in the silence response condition. It is suggested that auditory background stimulation can influence visual brain activity, even if both stimuli are unrelated.


3. The Influence of Mozart’s Sonata K.448 on Brain Activity during the performance of spatial rotation and numerical tasks. 

This research was also completed by Norbert Jausovec and Katarina Habe in Slovenia and was published in Brain Topography, Volume 17, Number 4, Summer 2005. The method of induced even-related desynchronization / synchronization (ERD/ERS) and coherence (ERCoh) was used. The music condition had a beneficial influence on respondent’s performance of spatial rotation tasks, and a slightly negative influence on the performance of numerical tasks as compared with the silent condition. On the psycho physiological level a general effect of Mozart’s music on brain activity in the induced gamma band was observed, accompanied by a more specific effect in the induced lower-2 alpha band which was only present while respondents solved the numerical tasks. It is suggested that listening to Mozart’s music increases the activity of specific brain areas and in that way facilitates the selection and “binding” together of pertinent aspects of sensory stimulus into a perceived whole. 


4. The Mozart Effect: An Electroencephalographic Analysis Employing the methods of induced event-Related Desynchronization / Synchronization and Event Related Coherence. 

This research was also completed by Norbert Jausovec and Katarina Habe in Slovenia and was published in Brain Topography, Volume 16, Number 2, winter 2003. The event-related responses of 18 individuals were recorded while they were listening to 3 music clips of 6 s duration which were repeated 30 times each. The music clips differed in the level of their complex structure, induced mood, musical tempo and prominent frequency. They were taken from Mozart’s sonata (K. 448) and Brahms Hungarian dance (no.5) and the third was a simplified version of the theme taken from Haydn’s symphony (no 94). Significant differences in induced event-related desynchronization between 3 

music clips were only observed in the lower-1 alpha band which is related to attentional processes. A similar pattern was observed for the coherence measures. The research suggests that Mozart’s music – with no regard to the level of induced mood, musical tempo and complexity – influences the level of arousal. It seems that modulations in the frequency domain of Mozart’s sonata have the greatest influence in the reported neurophysiological activity. 


Related Books to read: 

The Ear and language – Dr. Alfred Tomatis 

The Conscious Ear – Dr. Alfred Tomatis Listening for Wellness – Pierre Sollier 

When Listening comes alive – Paul Madaule The Mozart Effect for Children – Don 

Campbell Awakening Ashley – Sharon Ruben 

The Brain's Way of Healing (Chapter 8) - Dr. Norman Doidge


The TOMATIS® Method is an Educational Program, and is considered neither a medical treatment nor a means to establish a medical diagnosis. The content in this website is for informational purposes only. It should be neither considered as nor substituted for medical advice.

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