An historical commentary on the physiological effects of music: Tomatis, Mozart and neuropsychology

Abstract

This article provides an overview of the theoretical underpinnings of the Tomatis Method, along with a commentary on other forms of sound/music training and the need for research. A public debate was sparked over the “Mozart Effect.” This debate has turned out to be unfortunate because the real story is being missed.

The real story starts with Alfred Tomatis, M.D., scientist and innovator. Dr. Tomatis was the first to develop a technique using modified music to stimulate the rich interconnections between the ear and the nervous system to integrate aspects of human development and behavior. The originating theories behind the Tomatis Method are reviewed to describe the ear’s clear connection to the brain and the nervous system. The “neuropsychology of sound training” describes how and what the Tomatis Method effects.

Since Dr. Tomatis opened this field in the mid 20th century, no fewer than a dozen offshoot and related systems of training have been developed. Though each new system of treatment makes clains of effectiveness, no research exists to substantiate their claims. Rather, each simplified system bases its “right to exist and advertise” on the claimed relationship to Tomatis and his complex Method. Research is desperately needed in this area.

The 50 years of clinical experience and anecdotal evidence amassed by Tomatis show that sound stimulation can provide a valuable remediation and developmental training tool for people of all ages. Offshoot systems have watered down the Tomatis Method without research to guide the decisions of simplifying the techniques and equipment.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abrams, R.M. et al. (1987). Effects of cochlear ablation on local cerebral glucose utilization in fetal sheep.American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 157, 1438–42.Google Scholar
  2. Blakeslee, S. (1994) New Clue to Cause of Dyslexia Seen in Mishearing of Fast Sounds.New York Times, August 16, 1994.Google Scholar
  3. Blood, A. J., Zatorre, R. J., Bermudez, P. and Evans, A.C. (1999). Emotional responses to pleasant and unpleasant music correlate with activity in paralimbic brain regions.Nature Neuroscience 2, 382–387.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruer, J.T. (1997).The Myth of the First Three Years. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. Campbell, D. (1997).The Mozart Effect. New York: Avon Books.Google Scholar
  6. Chamberlain, D.B. (1983).Consciousness at birth: A review of the empirical evidence. San Diego: Chamberlain Communications.Google Scholar
  7. DeCasper, A. and Fifer, W. (1980). Of human bonding: Newborns prefer their mother’s voices.Science, 208, 1174–1176.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. du Plessis, W.F. and van Jaarsveld, P.E. (1988). Audio-psycho-phonology at Potchefstroom: A comparative outcome study on anxious primary school pupils.South African Tydskr. Sielk., 18 (4), 144–151.Google Scholar
  9. Eisenberg, R. (1976).Auditory competence in early life. Baltimore: University Park Press.Google Scholar
  10. Gilmor, T.M. (1989). The Tomatis method and the genesis of listening.Pre- & peri-natal psychology, 4, 9–26.Google Scholar
  11. Gilmor, T.M. (1999). The efficacy of the Tomatis Method for children with learning and communication disorders: A meta-analysis.International Journal of Listening, 13, 12–23.Google Scholar
  12. Hebb, Donald O. (1966).A Textbook of Psychology. London.Google Scholar
  13. Hunt, J.M. (1961).Intelligence and Experience. New York: The Ronald Press Company.Google Scholar
  14. le Gall, A. (March, 1961). The correction of certain psychological and psychopedagogical deficiencies by the Electronic Ear using the Tomatis Effect. Paris: Office of the Inspector General of Public Instruction.Google Scholar
  15. Merzenich, M.M., Jenkins, W.M., Johnston, P., Schreiner, C., Miller, S.L. and Tallal, P. (1996). Temporal Processing Deficits of Language-Learning Impaired Children Ameliorated by Training.Science 271, 77–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Querleu, D., Renard, X., Versyp, F., Paris-Delrue, L. and Crepin, G. (1988a). Fetal hearing.European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 29, 191–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Querleu, D., Renard, X., Versyp, F., Paris-Delrue, L. and Crepin, G. (1988b). La transmission intra-amniotique des voix humaines.Rev Fr Gynecol Obstet, 83, 43–50.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Querleu, D., Renard, X., Boutteville, C. and Crepin, G. (1989). Hearing by the Human Fetus?Seminars in Perinatology, 13 (5), 409–420.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Levine, L.J. and Wright, E.L. (1993). Pilot Study Indicates Music Training of Three-Year-Olds Enhances Specific Spatial Reasoning Skills. Paper presented at the First Economic Summit of the National Association of Music Merchants in Newport Beach, CA. Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California, Irvine, CA. 92717.Google Scholar
  20. Rauscher, F.H., Shaw, G.L., Levine, L.J., Wright, E.L., Dennis, W.R. and Newcomb, R. (1997). Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children’s spatial-temporal reasoning.Neurological Research, 19, 1–8.Google Scholar
  21. Shaw, G.L. (1999).Keeping Mozart in Mind. Academic Press.Google Scholar
  22. Spence, M. and DeCasper, A. (1982). Human fetuses perceive maternal speech. Paper presented at the SRCD Conference, Austin, TX.Google Scholar
  23. Spence, M. and DeCasper, A. (1986). Prenatal experience with low frequency maternal voice sounds influences the newborn’s perception of maternal voice.Infant Behavioral Development, 10, 133–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Thompson, B.M. (1993a). Listening disabilities: Plight of Many. In Wolvin, A. and Coakley, C. (Eds.),Perspectives on Listening, Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. Thompson, B.M. (1993). Sound Therapy. In Burton Goldberg Group,Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide, Puyallup, Washington: Future Medicine Publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
  26. Thompson, B.M. and Andrews, S.R. (1999). The Emerging Field of Sound Training.IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, 18, 89–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tomatis, A.A. (1963).L’Oreille et le langage, Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
  28. Tomatis, A.A. (1971).Education et dyslexie. Paris: Les Editions E.S.F.Google Scholar
  29. Tomatis, A.A. (1974a).Vers l’écoute humaine (Vol. I). Paris: Les Edition E.S.F.Google Scholar
  30. Tomatis, A.A. (1974b).Vers l’écoute humaine (Vol. II). Paris: Les Edition E.S.F.Google Scholar
  31. Tomatis, A.A. (1977).L’Oreille et la Vie, Paris: Editions Robert Laffont.Google Scholar
  32. Tomatis, A.A. (1978).Education and Dyslexia. Fribourg, Switzerland: Association Internationale dí Audio-Psycho-Phonologie (out of print).Google Scholar
  33. Tomatis, A.A. (1979). The ear and learning difficulties (T. Brown, Trans.). Paper presented at the Quebec Association for Children with Learning Problems, March, 1979.Google Scholar
  34. Tomatis, A.A. (1987).La nuit uterine, Paris: Stock Editions.Google Scholar
  35. Tomatis, A.A. (1991).The Conscious Ear, Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press (out of print).Google Scholar
  36. Tomatis A.A. (1996).The Ear and Language. Norval, Ontario: Moulin Press.Google Scholar
  37. van Jaarsveld, P.E. and du Plessis, W.F. (1988). Audio-psycho-phonology at Potchefstroom: A review.South African Tydskr. Sielk., 18(4), 136–142.Google Scholar
  38. Verny, T. (1981).The secret life of the unborn child. New York: Dell Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  39. Von Békésy, G. (1960).Experiments in hearing. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sound Listening & Learning CenterPhoenix
  2. 2.Listening and Learning CenterUSA

Personalised recommendations