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Tomatis' Laws

1. The voice contains only those sounds that the ear can hear.

2. If the missing frequencies are restored to the ear they will be automatically restored to the voice.

3. Hearing which is compulsory, continued, and repeated over a certain period of time definitely modifies hearing and speech.

Research

Sound Therapy was developed by Dr Alfred Tomatis (1920 - 2001), a French Ear, Nose & Throat specialist, who in 1946 developed his own branch of research known as audio-psycho-phonology, which bridges medicine, psychology, music therapy, speech therapy, and special education.

Dr Tomatis wrote 14 books (of which 3 have been translated into english) and numerous articles. To recognise the advances he made in his research, he was named Knight of Public Health of France in 1951 and was awarded a Medaille d'Or de la Recherche Scientifique (Gold Medal for Scientific Research) in 1958.

This page details some of the general work of Dr Tomatis; the other pages in this section discuss studies in specific areas which have been conducted by Dr Tomatis or have been based on the methods devised by Dr Tomatis.

The Psychology of Hearing

The entry point for Tomatis was when he became aware of the large psychological component of hearing. We are capable of tuning out our listening or focusing it on something that interests us. The ear is directed by the mind, and without this direction it does not function.

Tomatis was one of the first to investigate the auditory environment of the foetus. He theorised that the auditory relationship between baby and mother lays the foundation for all of our other relationships and is therefore the crucial point of intervention to bring about change in a person's psychological response to sound and language.

Tomatis devised a system of taking the listener back through the auditory experience of being in the womb and first learning to identify sound. He called this process sonic birth.

The Tomatis Effect: Altering the Auditory Curve

As his initial concern was with hearing loss, Tomatis' first experiments dealt with altering the auditory curve. Tomatis designed an apparatus, called the "Electronic Ear", which could manipulate the frequencies of sounds so it could match a sound to a person's auditory curve, or vice versa, it could boost the deficient frequencies to enable someone to hear as a normal ear would hear.

Initially, Tomatis worked with singers who had lost certain frequencies in their voices. He found that the dead spots in their voices matched exactly the dead spots on their audiograms. By correcting their hearing with the Electronic Ear, he restored the missing frequencies to their voices.

However, the repair that he was able to achieve at that stage was only temporary. Tomatis continued his experiements, and discovered that if treatment with the Electronic Ear is carried out consistently over a certain number of hours and period of time, the effects became permanent.

The secret to achieving the permanent reparation of hearing lay in the gymnastic effect of the Electronic Ear upon the hearing mechanism. The Electronic Ear did more than simply present a corrected sound scope to the ear; it presented fluctuating sounds, alternating through high and low channels so that the ear was forced to constantly adjust between the high and low tones. This gymnasticised the middle ear muscles, giving the ear a complete work-out in the act of listening. The muscles thus regain their natural tone, which accounts on a physical level for the improved hearing.

Tomatis' Theory of Sound Transmission

Dr Tomatis developed a new theory on how sound is conducted from the ear drum to the inner ear. He surmised that when sounds reach the ear drum, they then pass directly through the tympanic sulcus into the cranial bone, which relays them to the cochlea. The vibrations then enter the organ of corti and the cilia directly from the bony case of the cochlea rather than via the fluid.

The evidence for this theory lies in the fact that the gap between the anvil and stirrup is too large to be traversed by high frequency sounds. In Tomatis' view, the ossicles serve to reduce the sound vibrations before they reach the cochlea, by altering the tension on the ear drum as well as the fluid pressure in the cochlea, to prevent dangerously a high level of vibration entering the fluid filled inner ear.