A New Understanding of the Ear
“One sings –
or one speaks –
with one’s ear.”
—Alfred A. Tomatis
The Conscious Ear: My Life of Transformation Through Listening
The Tomatis® Method is based on a new understanding of the ear, which draws a critical distinction between listening and hearing.
Listening Versus Hearing
Dr. Alfred Tomatis, the Method’s founder, emphasized that listening is different from hearing. Hearing is the passive reception of sound while listening is the active participation in what one hears. It is possible to have good hearing, but poor listening. Dr. Tomatis found that by improving your listening, you can improve your day-to-day functioning in many areas.
Dr. Tomatis proved through scientific research that the voice can only produce what the ear can hear. If a sound is returned to the ear, it is immediately regained in the voice. And, if the ear is re-trained for a minimal amount of time (60 hours), the changes are long lasting. Tomatis built his Method around this proven premise, which was named the Tomatis Effect.
The ear plays a unique and critical role in our daily living. The positive effects of good listening are far-reaching and are based on key physiological understandings, which have become known over the last few decades. For instance:
- The ear is the first organ to grow in utero.
- Sound is critical in normal human development.
- “Stimulation activates neural pathways and, in the developing fetus and infant, acts as an organizing principle for the developing nervous system.” *
- The ear and nervous system are intricately connected.
- The vagus nerve travels from the ear/Vestibular system/brain throughout the body, affecting major organ function.
- The vestibular/cochlea nerve from the inner ear is connected to the brain and monitors balance.
- The ear is connected to the body through three tracts Tomatis called integrators:
- Vestibular (or somatic) integrator for body image, movement
- Visual (or spatial) integrator for ear/eye connection
- Cochlear (or linguistic) integrator for brain stimulation
Tomatis proved, and we now understand, that if you change the ear, you affect all of the body’s major organs. These changes, in turn, can produce revolutionary changes and improvements in how we function. With the Tomatis Method, people of all ages can imagine new possibilities, expand their capabilities, and realize their dreams.
* Tomatis as quoted in Andrews, Susan, and Billie Thompson. “An Historical Commentary on the Physiological Effects of Music: Tomatis, Mozart and Neuropsychology.” Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science: Official Journal of the Pavlovian Society. 35: 3 (2000): 183.