New Research Article: The Listening Program Effective In Reducing Auditory Sensitivities In Children


Yesterday our team at Advanced Brain Technologies announced the publication of a peer reviewed journal article that discusses the unique properties of the acoustically modified music of The Listening Program®. The article also includes a review of the research on the effectiveness in its use for significant improvements in children’s listening, auditory processing, educational abilities, and as treatment to reduce auditory hypersensitivity.

Published in Music and Medicine an interdisciplinary journal, the article Use of Acoustically Modified Music to Reduce Auditory Hypersensitivity in Children appears in Vol 11, No 1 (2019) is authored by Jay R. Lucker, Professor of Communication Sciences at Howard University and myself.

Some children cannot tolerate sounds so their systems “shut down” and stop taking in what they hear, or they fight not to listen or run away from listening situations. Research has demonstrated that the underlying problem is not with the children’s auditory systems, but with the connections between the auditory system (listening) and the emotional system leading the children to have over sensitivities to sound and respond with negative emotional reactions when listening.


One treatment which is found effective in helping children with hypersensitive hearing feel safe and comfortable, is the use of specially recorded and acoustically modified music and sound, known as The Listening Program (TLP), which we produce at Advanced Brain Technologies. The recorded music and sounds are carefully chosen and systematically produced to enhance positive emotional and calming reactions during listening. The listening method uses specially recorded instrumental music. The music is acoustically modified to lead the child to react less negatively to sounds and, thus, reduces the child’s hypersensitivity while opening the auditory system to listen more effectively. The article provides a full description of this music listening therapy method which has been used successfully for 20 years.

Following a regiment of daily listening to the TLP music protocol for 15- 30 minutes through headphones, research has demonstrated significant improvements in listening (called auditory processing) and educational performance as noted by greater focusing and listening in the classroom, improvements in educational performance on standardized measures, and greater participation in educational activities.

The Listening Program offers a safe, enjoyable and effective solution for children and adults who exhibit hypersensitivities to sound including those on the autism spectrum, with sensory processing issues, concussions and more. This paper provides detailed information to help the reader understand how the music is created to have the specific effects it does, and to appreciate that TLP is more than music, and how this neuroscience-based music listening therapy uniquely stands apart from other audio-based methods.

The Listening Program is available exclusively through Advanced Brain Technologies and our international network of thousands of trained providers; occupational therapists, audiologists, physicians, speech and language pathologists, psychologists, other clinicians and educators in schools, hospitals, clinics, companies, the military and offering home-based interventions throughout the world. TLP programs are available for use on digital music players and as a subscription-based music streaming service for mobile devices.

Learn more about The Listening Program

Research abstract

Press release




New Auditory Channel Identified for Sound Processing

Researchers at the University of Oregon have identified a new auditory channel for sound processing. This is an interesting study that could lead to the development of new treatments that could improve auditory processing with implications for better speech discrimination.  More information is available in the February 11 issue of journal Neuron.

For the full article please visit ScienceDaily.

Study Demonstrates Effectiveness of The Listening Program® with Bone Conduction on Children with SPD

6 children who present with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and auditory processing concerns with ages ranging from 3 yrs 11 mo. to 8 yrs. 7 mo. 4 of whom were receiving therapy services participated in the study.  Results from standardized testing demonstrated a significant improvement in all children who completed the program, compared to just therapy alone. This demonstrated that The Listening Program® with bone conduction is effective in helping increase functional skills and outcomes in children who present with sensory integration and auditory processing concerns along with skilled therapists to help achieve maximum potential and independence in everyday tasks/skills.

This study was originally presented by John Esteves at the 2008 Advanced Brain Technologies International Conference in Midway, Utah, July 2008.  A summary is in the new book just published by Springer Vienna and New York,  edited by Roland Haas and Vera Brandes Music That Works: Contributions of Biology, Neurophysiology, Psychology, Sociology, Medicine and Musicology ISBN 978-3-211-75120-6

 To read or download the full study please click here.

ADHD Family Summit Interview on Auditory Processing Disorder Now Available

On June 1st I was interviewed by Dr. Rory Stern about the overlap of ADHD and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) symptoms for the ADHD Family Summit. Based on the reponse to this interview I will be expanding on this topic and making more resources available at in the future.

If you didn’t get a chance to listen here is a link to the interview and transcript.

ADHD or Auditory Processing Disorder in Disguise?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) if six or more symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity have persisted for at least six months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level, a child or adult may be diagnosed with ADHD. Depending on the symptom combination, this could be further classified as inattentive, hyperactive, combined type, or not otherwise specified (NOS).     

This diagnosis often leads to a treatment regime including medication such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, Ritalin, Strattera, among others.  If medication doesn’t work parents may turn to behavioral management techniques, dietary changes, nutritional supplements, neurofeedback, and school accommodations. An integrated treatment approach is generally best. ADHD symptom management can be an exasperating experience for both parent and child.   

What many parents and professionals may not recognize is that something else may be going on. Many of the symptoms of ADHD are shared with an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).  There is parallel situation with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  If it looks like, talks like, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Right? Not necessarily…

Staying with the ADHD/APD link children with APD may struggle to block out background noise, follow conversations, are often fidgety and distractible. They may have difficulty following directions, keeping themselves organized, experience auditory working memory deficits, and have challenges understanding instructions or conversations. Problems with language, reading, academic performance, peer relationships, and self-confidence are also part of the APD profile. Sound familiar? Simply put, auditory processing is what the brain does with what it hears. This is something I understand quite well having spent a good deal of my childhood and teen years with some of these challenges.  

Children with APD are frequently lost in the cracks, in large part because auditory processing disorders are not yet well known and are not included in the DSM.  How many children have an auditory processing disorder? Estimates range from as low as 3% to as high as 20%. An accurate number is difficult to determine due to lack of professional understanding, co-morbidity, and the plain fact that it looks a lot like ADHD and can co-exist with it. 

The APD brain has difficulty taking in, storing, processing, and understanding sounds and words. Imagine listening to a radio station that is not quite tuned to the channel frequency. You can hear part of a song through the noise, but miss a lot of it, perhaps without even realizing. The brain has a tough time filling in the missing pieces, so the song may not make sense.  We have all experienced this at one time or another.

Ever listen to and even sing a song thinking the lyrics are one thing, later to find they are different? I love Johnny Cash, Ring Of  Fire is one of my favorite songs. Here is a great example of a misheard lyric, “I fell in like a child on fire”. Real lyric,”I fell into a burning ring of fire”. See, it’s easy to do! Trouble is, with APD this happens in conversations, when listening to instructions in the classroom, or trying to follow directions at home. This is just one illustration.

What looks a lot like ADHD can be APD. Diagnosis is made by an audiologist using a specific assessment battery, rather than relying on symptoms alone. An accurate diagnosis can be made starting at age 7.  Parents often ask if APD is a hearing problem, in most cases hearing is fine, the brain just doesn’t understand what it hears. Often the difficulty includes filtering out background sounds and even experiencing pain or discomfort with exposure to certain sounds, which can lead to distractibility. Auditory distractions have a major impact on attention, taking a student’s attention away from what they are trying to or should be focusing on in the classroom.     

Is it ADHD or auditory processing disorder in disguise? If APD, what are the causes, and most effective strategies and treatments?

This is what will be explored in my teleconference with psychologist and ADHD expert Dr. Rory Stern, this Monday, June 1st at 9:00 PM EDT.

Please sign up for your FREE VIP Seat for The Ear-Brain Connection: The Role of Auditory Processing in Attention, one of 12 interviews in the online ADHD Family Summit by clicking here .