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Auditory Processing is what the brain does with what it hears

Hearing-passive: ability to sense sound

Listening-active: ability to take in and filter out sound

Auditory Processing- dynamic: what the brain does with what it hears

Auditory Processing ……….. “what we do with what we hear” 

Often the first query is that there may be a hearing problem as the child appears not to hear. So the family head off to have a hearing test and guess what…. it comes back that hearing is perfect and within normal limits. Too often it is then Shutterstock_81733966-2dismissed and the family head off to have their child’s eyes checked – perhaps that’s the problem…..

 

If only the investigation went one step deeper and actually looked at the child’s ”processing” they would in most cases reveal the root cause of the reason that child is not developing and learning to their full potential.

 

There are many different facets of Auditory Processing and an individual may have a few specific challenges or quite a cluster. In any case the most important thing to recognize is that

 

 

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE 

We can improve our Auditory Processing effectively and relatively easily. This is not a condition that an individual should “just learn to cope with”

In today’s ever increasing class sizes a child’s processing both visual and auditory is going to contribute to their level of achievement. Why wouldn’t you want to make this be the best it could be? Brain Plasticity is the well researched and growing at a rapid rate. We know that if we provide the right stimulation with the right FREQUENCY, INTENSITY AND DURATION we will create changes within the brain.

Let’s take a look at the many areas of Auditory Processing

  • Amplitude Perception - To perceive the loudness or intensity of sounds. This is measured in decibels (abbreviated “dB”).
  • Frequency Perception - To perform a frequency analysis; for example, the ability to split sounds into various frequency bands. Frequency is measured in Hertz (abbreviated “Hz”).
  • Auditory Attention - To attend, focus, or listen to sound.
  • Sound Localization - To identify the source of a sound in your environment.
  • Auditory Discrimination - To distinguish between sounds or words that are similar or different in the way they sound.
  • Auditory Closure - To fill in the missing pieces of sounds or words.
  • Auditory Anticipation - To expect what sound is coming next.
  • Auditory Temporal Processing - To analyze the timing and pattern of sounds.
  • Auditory Memory - To sequence sounds, words, or other meaningful combinations. To receive, store, process, and recall auditory information.
  • Auditory Cohesion - To understand the meaning, abstraction, and intention of verbal communication and music.
  • Auditory Figure Ground - To perceive speech or other sound when other competing sounds are present.
  • Auditory Scene Analysis - To separate sounds when a large mixture of sounds is present.

Symptoms of Auditory Processing Problems

  • Needs to have directions or information repeated
  • Has poor auditory sequential memory
  • Misunderstands spoken information, directions or questions
  • Is easily distracted by background noise
  • Finds some sounds uncomfortable or painful
  • Has trouble with auditory discrimination skills
  • Difficulties with math concepts

Why use The Listening program?

The Listening Program provides advanced auditory training to the ear and brain through the systematic delivery of psycho acoustically modified music.

TLP is provided with the right frequency, intensity and duration that trains the auditory system to accurately process the full spectrum of sound for improved listening, learning and communication.

Progressive Training

Progressive Training

How can something that seems so simple - actually impact a wide range of abilities, such as reading, communication, learning and memory?

Numerous studies and research worldwide provide empirical evidence that substantiate The Listening Program’s efficacy. (available www.links2learning.com.au)

And while that affirms The Listening Program’s credibility, for many the question remains, how does The Listening Program work? Quite simply put both Auditory and Sensory Processing are functioning at a higher level, the brain is better set up ready for learning to naturally occur.

But just as every listener is unique, so is the program implementation for each listener. No effective method is ever “one size fits all,” and that is why The Listening Program is a monitored program through a trained TLP provider requiring an understanding of your child’s particular difficulties. This will give the listener the best possible outcomes from the program.

Generally, listeners will use TLP once or twice a day for 15 minutes, five days a week. The initial individualised listening schedule (which tells you what to listen to and when), will take place over the course of approximately 6 to 12 months. We recommend an annual maintenance program to further support the improvements achieved.

As we monitor progress we will often make adjustments throughout the listening schedule to meet individual needs.

Whatever the listening schedule, consistency on the part of the listener is critical for lasting change. Casual exposure to auditory stimulation will not produce results. Neuroscience clearly demonstrates that the brain needs frequency, intensity and duration for effective change.

Air and Bone Conduction - Simultaneous Stimulation

Simultaneous Air and Bone Conduction stimulation

Vibratory (sound) input is conducted to the cochlea in two ways:

1. Through the air (air conduction)

2. Through fluids, bone and tissue of the head and body (bone conduction)

3. Sound stimulation from the environment reaches receptors in the inner ears through both air and bone conduction. Sound generated from within the individual is conducted primarily by way of bone conduction.

The vibrations which constitute sound affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically impacting upon the temporal bones of the cranium, within which the vestibulocochlear apparatus is bilaterally situated. As temporal bone vibrates, its frequency of vibration affects the fluid within the ductwork of the apparatus which, ultimately, influences the position/movement of the hair cells within the receptor mechanism.

 

Benefits2a_Treatment_Catagories  

  • Perception
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Motor Coordination
  • Language
  • Listening
  • Auditory Processing
  • Spatial Awarenes
  • Flexibility
  • Problem-solving
  • Decision-making
  • Self-regulation
  • Sensory Processing
  • Sequencing
  • Inhibition
  • Social Engagement
  • Creativity
  • Learning
  • Reduced sound sensitivities
  • Brain Health
  • Well being

The Ear Brain Connection

What is Bone Conducted Listening?

The Listening Program® (TLP) method of Music-Based Auditory Stimulation™ is enhanced with the addition of bone conduction technology with the ABT Bone Conduction System (ABT BCS).

This exciting technology takes TLP to a whole new level of effectiveness. It combines the experience of listening to music through modified headphones adding subtle, synchronized acoustic vibration of the skin and skeletal system, engaging the whole body and brain in the listening process. This multi-sensory approach accelerates and expands the benefits of The Listening Program.

Bone Conduction Background

Although bone conduction was first referenced in 1827, the first known application of bone conduction in the field of auditory stimulation was by Dr.Tomatis in the 1960s.  Up to that point in time, the application of bone conduction was a hearing aid device to improve the perception of sound in those with hearing loss or deafness. By picking up the sounds of human voice from the environment and amplifying it, those with hearing loss could be helped to hear. These hearing aids were worn behind the ear on the mastoid bone (the hard bone directly behind the ear). They vibrated the sounds being received and transmitted them into the bone which then carried the sounds to the inner ear.  For this reason, bone conductors were often referred to as vibrators or transducers. A transducer is a device that changes the energy from one system into another form of energy, e.g. your loud speakers convert electrical energy into sound.  This technology is still used today and has been greatly improved through the use of a system called the Baha Implant, which is surgically implanted to the skull bone and provides direct bone conduction.

As the father of auditory stimulation Dr. Tomatis found that his Tomatis Method had a profound effect in helping children with learning disabilities, attention problems, and singers who needed enrichment of their voice and enhancement of their vocal technique. 

To better understand how Dr.Tomatis decided to introduce bone conduction into his method, it would be helpful to briefly review his theory of listening. For Dr.Tomatis, all listening is first and foremost through bone conduction. Air conduction is a human adaptation along evolutionary lines as we moved out of the fluid filled world of our ancestors and a necessary accommodation as we emerge from the fluid filled womb of our mothers. For Dr. Tomatis, we listen and attend to others via air conduction and listen to ourselves through bone conduction.  This role of bone conduction and self-listening informed many of his psychological theories of listening.

After much research into the perceptions of sound and the role of the muscles of the middle ear, Dr. Tomatis no longer subscribed to the traditional theory of sound travelling through the ossicular chain. Rather he believed the vibrations of the eardrum, firmly cradled by the annular ring of the temporal bone, were carried to the cochlea via the bony chamber called the osseous labyrinth. All listening is ultimately, therefore, through bone. Dr. Tomatis thus proclaimed that good listening is accomplished with the whole body. It was an easy leap to consider applying a bone conductor to the skull to stimulate the cochlea directly, by-passing the middle ear to enhance one’s inner awareness of sound and one’s own voice. As he soon discovered, this extra vibration also resulted in stimulation of the vestibular system as well, which promoted a calming and grounding effect along with improved motor control.  

In the Tomatis Method, as the program progresses, it is customary to filter out low frequencies via high-pass filters during the process of listening training. In some children, the highly filtered music was over stimulating and could not be integrated, sometimes leading to the aforementioned irritability and moodiness. Once the use of the bone conductor was initiated, there was a remarkable decrease in the number of adverse responses to the auditory stimulation.  In The Listening Program we also observe more grounding as the music becomes more highly filtered.

Theory on the Physiology of Bone Conduction

How was the addition of listening through bone conduction simultaneously with air conduction able to have the calming effects observed? How was it that children tolerated the listening intervention so much more easily than before? Again, we return to anatomy. The inner ear resides within the petrous portion of the temporal bone which angles forward at about a 45-degree angle ending near the foramen magnum near the midline. This means the left and right inner ears are quite close to one another. Housed within this bony chamber is the membranous labyrinth that contains the cochlea and the vestibule. The vestibular system includes the three semicircular canals that provide information on rotation and dynamic movement of the head and the saccule and utricule that give the brain information on the effects of gravity and acceleration and deceleration.   

Vibration of the bone is transmitted into the fluid medium of the vestibular system causing the hair cells to move in response to agitation of the calcium deposits in the macula of the utricle and saccule. The movement of the hair cells causes an electrical discharge to occur which is carried to the cerebellum, the basal ganglia and to the cortex of the brain. Through rich connections between the ear’s vestibular system, cerebellar pathways and the body’s muscles and joints, awareness of our body at a conscious and deep subconscious level is enhanced. This is the infrastructure of our ‘psyche’ or body awareness, the organizations of which is the foundation for higher learning and integration. The input from the vestibular system to the brain also charges the brain with energy at sub-cortical and cortical levels, leading to a deeper somatic awareness of ourselves as well as improved focus and attention due to this added energy input. In essence, the bone conduction through the vestibular system is grounding, meaning that we feel connected mind to body and to gravity. There is improved ability to execute the motor activities required for success in the world; be it in sports, dance, handwriting or riding a bicycle. Once the conscious attention can be freed up by making the regulation of our body movements automatic, attention can now be directed to taking on the challenges of learning, regulating our emotions, and developing the executive functions of organization, planning and impulse control.  

Much of what has been described above is attributable to both air conduction and bone conduction. However, bone conduction is an added form of stimulation to the vestibular system that is stronger than air conduction alone and is particularly helpful in dealing with issues related to balance, fine and gross motor development and speech and language control. The increased input to the cortex of the brain may accelerate the maturation of the brain as well. Therefore, along with the improvements observed in balance and motor control are improvements in emotional control with reduced anxiety, fewer melt downs, less anger, crying spells and a better adjustment to the listening process.  

Shutterstock_91329773The vagus nerve, the 10th cranial nerve, sends branches to the external surface of the eardrum and external acoustic meatus. Thus we reach out to our environment to get a “gut sense” so to speak, and to test the reliability of what we hear against our inner awareness. Stimulation of the vagus nerve also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, the homeostatic branch of the autonomic nervous system. This stimulation provides another level of calming influence to that provided by the bone conduction.  

We listen to ourselves through bone conduction and to others through the air. If you have ever listened to a recording of your own voice you have experienced this phenomenon. Bone conduction tends to amplify low frequencies, so most people hear their own voice as being of a lower pitch than it actually is.

As we speak our entire body resonates due in part to the speed in which sound travels through bone. Our self perception through speech is primarily through the influence of the bone conduction pathway. This is quite different from how we listen to others, whose voices are transmitted through the air.

When the body and brain are stimulated with simultaneous acoustic and somatosensory stimulation, the limbic system is engaged. With the numerous cortical and subcortical brain structures that are part of the limbic system it becomes easy to understand what a profound influence bone conduction technology can have when used with The Listening Program. The whole body becomes engaged with listening, connecting mind and body with profound influence.   

 

Bone Conduction Applications

Most listeners of all ages will achieve faster results with The Listening Program® with the addition of bone conduction technology. Bone conduction reduces the need for and duration of preparatory listening

Following is a list of circumstances that would indicate the use of TLP with bone conduction technology.

  • History of ear infections
  • History of middle ear fluid
  • Hearing loss
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Sensory processing problems
  • Over or under arousal
  • Poor self regulation
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperacousis or sound sensitivities
  • Difficulty filtering out background sound   
  • Poor body awareness
  • Gravitational insecurity
  • Poor posture
  • Balance problems
  • Low muscle tone
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor spatial awareness
  • Expressive speech and language issues
  • Poor vocal production or control
  • Accelerated benefits for all listeners

Bone Conduction Contraindications

The following circumstances constitute contraindications for the use of TLP with bone conduction technology;

  • Seizure disorder
  • Meniere’s disease

While we have no reported problems with listeners with a seizure disorder from using TLP with bone conduction technology, we list these as contraindications due to the instability of the central nervous system associated with these conditions.

When considering the use of TLP with or without bone conduction for an individual with a psychiatric diagnosis please consult with the person’s psychiatrist before using The Listening Program®.    

Equipment 

The ABT BCS includes a small custom made, pocket sized, battery operated headphone amplifier and specialized, open-air headphones from Sennheiser that have been modified to include a bone conduction transducer in the headband. This portable bone conduction technology offers the convenience and flexibility of listening in the comfort of your own home, it also eliminates the need for lengthy in-clinic auditory stimulation programs.

The first generation ABT BCS was first released in April 2007. One year later the ABT Digital BCS was released, and in 2014 the Waves Multisensory Audio System was released.  

Hearing tests check a person's ability to hear the loudness and pitch of sounds. The results are charted on a graph (audiogram) to help pinpoint the severity and causes of hearing problems. Special tests are available to test hearing in babies and children. A doctor, audiologist or ear, nose and throat specialist can provide more information about hearing loss and hearing tests. 

More information can be found at; http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Hearing_tests_explained?open