The ear catches and conducts changes in air pressure, from the atmosphere, into the inner ear, where it transforms airwaves into electrical impulses. The ear has two primary functions hearing and recognition of movement. The two portions of the ear are connected but with different sensory nerves, leading to different areas of the brain. These electrical impulses are then transmitted along the auditory nerve to the listening decoding centre in the brain and along the vestibular nerve to the brain stem and cerebellum. Those impulses that go to the listening decoding centre are heard as sound, those that travel along the vestibular branch are felt as movement.
The ear is fully functional by 20 weeks after conception, which demonstrates how vital the ear is in the overall development of the baby. Babies feel movement, they recognise position, the majority knowing that the head should be down for birth (breach presentation nearly always suggests that the gyroscopic function of the ear is not working as well as it should). The baby can hear long before birth, listens and enjoys music, recognising mother and father’s voices at birth. However, as with everything in the newborn, the listening decoding centre is very small; and grows from stimulation, both movement and sound. Anything that prevents the baby moving will have an impact upon the development of the vestibular portion of the ear brain connection; and anything that interferes with hearing or listening will have an impact upon the development of the listening portion of the ear brain connection,
The listening decoding centre is more frequently known as the language decoding centre, but as far as we know this centre decodes not just language but all sounds, including music. This is why music is a very good medium for encouraging development of this centre. The decoding centre is divided into different sections, each section registering a different band width of those sound frequencies able to be heard. Each section is also tiny in the newborn, stimulation increasing its size. Most of the increase in size should be achieved during the first 3 years whilst the child is developing language.
Sound Therapy is specifically designed to stimulate both the auditory nerve and the vestibular nerve, improving the number of connections between the ear and the brain. Stimulation of the auditory nerve also increases the size of the individual decoding sections. As the connections grow they transmit the impulse faster and the larger segments can decode more effectively. This helps with understanding both spoken and written language. Stimulation of the vestibular nerve helps to inhibit the outmoded Primitive Reflexes and mature the automatic Postural Reflexes that create good posture, maintain balance, rapid establishment of equilibrium when moving, and maintain automatic eye function for visual stability whether standing still or moving. Maturation of the Postural Reflexes helps therefore with co-ordination, dexterity, hyperactivity, reading and writing. Many individuals with hyperactivity need to keep moving because the postural control required to keep still is underdeveloped.
The Listening Programme (TLP), the form of Sound Therapy that I prefer to use, is specially recorded music. The music is chosen for its specific frequency range, depending upon what area of listening is being treated. The orchestra is specifically selected so that they understand the need to highlight specific frequencies. The music is also filtered during recording to add emphasis to the range of frequencies being treated. The repetition of emphasised frequencies encourages the development of the nerve pathways to both the movement and listening portions of the brain. Within the listening portion it encourages growth within the different frequency decoding segments.