Team introduction

Autism,developmental disorders of speech, hyperactivity

Thierry Gaujarengues
President of company TDSA

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Today: 18.1.    Name-day: Vladislav

Theoretical bases

The human ear, anatomy and functions

Why is the ear so important?

What is the relation between hearing and language?

How can we retrain muscles in middle ear?

What is so special at the Electronic Ear?


The human ear, anatomy and functions

The hearing´s function is to be the initiator of the speech act, not only perceives the pressure of sound waves, but also analyses the incoming stimulus within limits of diverse dimensions: it discerns the loudness, the pitch, the timbre and the rhythm. In man, the auditory input is not accepted at its face value alone. The ear is not a passive receptor, but it analyses and transforms the input by means of subtle internal variances into a mental process.

The ear consists of three parts: outer, middle and inner ear.

The outer ear is composed of auricle and ear canal. At the end of ear canal there is eardrum, very small elastic membrane.

The middle ear is made of system of tiny bones and muscles going from eardrum to another membrane, oval window, which connect middle ear with inner ear. The middle ear bones, so called ossicles are known as malleus, incus and stapes. They were given their Latin names for their distinctive shapes; they are also referred to as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup, respectively.

The inner ear consists of the bony labyrinth, a system of passages comprising two main functional parts: vestibular system, dedicated to balance, and cochlea, dedicated to hearing. We can imagine cochlea as a rolled tube filled with liquid. In this tube there is the organ of Corti located. Organ of Corti transfers mechanical impulses into neural impulses, which the brain processes.

The way of sound through the ear to neural receptors

The sound is a mechanical wave; it can be transmitted through solid, liquid or gas. All these states the sound goes on its way through. The sound enters the outer ear as a air wave. The eardrum at the end of ear canal transmits this wave to ossicles in the middle ear, so the sound continues through solid state. The last ossicle, the stapes, is connected with the oval window, which is linked to cochlea again. Cochlea is filled with liquid, so called endolymph, so the last phase of wave takes place in liquid state.

anathomy of the ear


Why is the ear so important?

Ninety percent (90%) of the sensory messages that stimulate our brain, including movement and touch, involve the ear!

Acording to Dr. Tomatis the ear has three functions:

The balance function

Balance depends on the vestibule, the part of the inner ear that informs the brain of the slightest body movement. The ear is therefore involved in controlling posture and maintaining balance. In effect, all interior roots of the marrow are dependent upon the vestibular nerve. There is not one muscle of the body which escapes its control. Moreover, the vestibule plays a fundamental role in integrating the rhythms of both music and language due to its intricate network of connections to the brain.

The energy function

The human ear ensures a function of “cortical energizing”. The ear can be compared to a dynamo which transforms the stimulation it receives into neurological energy intended to feed the encephalon – the brain. The ear needs to be stimulated to energize the brain and the body. Sound is necessary for our personal fulfillment. The richer music is in high frequency harmonics, the more efficient its effect. Acording to research of Dr. Tomatis, singers feel energized after singing, a fact that he observed first hand since his father was a famous opera singer. If we perceive the high frequencies well, singing can be very energizing. Sounds that are rich in high frequency harmonics stimulate a vast neural network, called the “reticular formation”, which controls the overall activity level of the brain. By contrast, the bass sounds are decharging. They are consuming energy and exhausting the body.

The auditory function

The third function is the listening function which can be considered as one of the most important human accomplishments. The ear listens to external world in order to communicate with it. The auditory organ , more especially the cochlea, must be in perfect working order, so the person could receive, analyze, select, and control the sounds directed at him.  When hearing is disturbed, this creates not only problems of discrimination, spatialization and auditory lateralization, but also a loss of the ability to isolate an auditory message from surrounding noise. In this situation, the subject finds herself exposed to a mass of information that she receives with varying degrees of distortion. Understanding messages then require substantial efforts, causing errors, ever increasing fatigue, irritability and, finally withdrawal. Then the environment is experienced as problematic. In these circumstances attention and memory suffer.


What is the relation between hearing and language?

Dr. Tomatis has found that the ear plays a fundamental role in language development. Scientific evidence confirms that children already hear when still in the womb. After birth, their language develops primarily through hearing the language spoken by their parents. Through imitation and play, they learn the frequencies of the mother tongue. Only a good integration of the spoken language will make it possible to develop good writing and reading skills. A good ear is therefore the key element for mastering the language.

To listen well, the ear must be able to analyze the sounds correctly. In nature, pure sounds do not exist. Natural sounds are a mixture of high and low pitch frequencies. The ear must be able to distinguish between them. Learning disabled people are often unable to do so. Their “selectivity” is closed. They do not hear the difference between sounds like s and z, p and b, t and d, etc.

Acording to the research of Dr. Tomatis, an optimal transmission of sounds is only possible if the muscles of the hammer and the stirrup, both housed in the middle ear, work properly. This means that too much or too little tension in these muscles will result in poor listening, which influences the fonation very importantly – the speech, its melody and timbre – and other communicative components, for example difficulties with catching the message, expresing thoughts in loudly and understandable manner, with learning and remembering, with pronountiation, with stuttering etc.

One of the main goals of the Tomatis listening program is to retrain these muscles in middle ear.

Dr. Tomatis called that procedure as “the gymnastics for ears”.


How can we retrain muscles in middle ear?

In order to assist the human ear to establish or re-establish its full potential, Dr. Tomatis developed and patented components of the Electronic Ear, special headphones with bone and air conduction, and special audio tapes to use with the Electronic Ear.

By listening to sounds that the Electronic Ear switches gently, from low-pitched to high-pitched sounds, we can condition these muscles to better respond to a broader frequency spectrum. Actually, it is a fitness for our muscles in middle ear. And as a new world of sounds opens, so does the awareness of ourselves and of the world around us.


What is so special at the Electronic Ear?

The Electronic Ear and headphones use four mechanisms:

By some records the device filters certain band of frequencies – first lowest bands of sound, then higher. This way the ear is “forced” to perceive all frequency’s bands which were poorly perceived before.

The electronic device enables changing of two stimulation channels – one relaxes muscles in middle ear, the other one flexes them. This changing is directed and controlled electronically according to the intensity and dynamics of input signal. The ear is lead to perceive and analyze the sound signal by repeating this process.

  1. The balance control function enables preparation for the changing of laterality – if it is necessary. Dr. Tomatis proved physiological reasons of the right ear for becoming the lead ear. During the listening program the sound intensity fed via headphones to the left ear is progressively reduced.
  2. The reason for becoming right ear the lead ear is the efficiency. The right ear is directly connected to center for speech analysis in the brain (it is the shortest and fastest connection). So the efficiency of active neural link is very important. Using longer neural connection is like road diversion – instead to go on the highway, go on the 3. quality category road. The transfer of information is slower; some information can be damaged or lost. That’s why it is important right ear to be the lead ear.
  3. In addition, headphones include small vibrating device which enables bone conduction of sound. Thanks to both way of conduction, air and bone way, the bone and air hearing become more balanced.

We can combine and set many functions of the Electronic Ear - for example the timing. That means, the air conduction of sound can be delayed in contrary to bone conduction. We learn our brain to be nimble and to pay attention this way, so it could anticipate sounds which could come as next.


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