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

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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

 

 

 

Autism and Auditory Hypersensitivity: Causes and Treatment

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A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that autism spectrum disorder prevalence has significantly increased to over 2% of all children in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 28 boys currently with an autism diagnosis.

Professionals working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find that these children are overly sensitive to sounds. These professionals and parents are often concerned as to why children may have auditory hypersensitivities.

The journal Autism Research and Treatment recently published a peer reviewed article which discusses the neural mechanisms identified underlying hypersensitive hearing in people. I wrote this article with Dr. Jay R. Lucker of Howard University. Our article focuses on brain research to support the idea of the non-classical auditory pathways being involved in connecting the auditory system with the emotional system of the brain. We also discuss brain mechanisms believed to be involved in auditory hypersensitivity, and treatments for hypersensitive hearing.

This Wednesday, February 3rd at 8 pm Eastern, Dr. Jay R. Lucker will join me on The Listening Program Radio to discuss the topic of Autism and Auditory Hypersensitivity, the causes, treatment, and hope for those suffering from sound sensitivities.

Register here for this free program and to ask us a question we can answer live. You’ll receive an email with the call-in number and a web link to listen online 3 hours before the show.

Autism and Auditory Hypersensitivity: Hope for Relief

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Helping individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) achieve their greatest potential has been something close to my heart throughout my career. This interest has lead me in many directions including; research, developing scientifically optimized music for brain training, conference presentations, board positions in autism organizations, and writing.

One of my questions has been why do people with ASD so frequently demonstrate behaviors related to sensory over responsitivity (SOR), specifically auditory  hypersensitivity, also called hyperacousis and misophonia? This is a condition that touches not just the majority of individuals with autism, but many others including the so-called “neurotypical”. Sound hypersensitivity can be absolutely debilitating. It is heart-wrenching to see a child or adult suffer pain or perception of pain from everyday sounds.

In the quest to help, I’ve been so fortunate that Dr. Jay R. Lucker of the Department of Communication Sciences at Howard University and I share this interest. For years we have collaborated on research related to this phenomenon. Our first joint article on the topic “Auditory Hypersensitivity and Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Emotional Response” was published in Autism Science Digest in 2012. We then wrote an extensive follow-up to the Autism Science Digest article which is a deeper exploration into the neural mechanisms involved in auditory hypersensitivity which was just published in the peer reviewed journal Autism Research and Treatment.

Abstract

Professionals working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may find that these children are overly sensitive to sounds. These professionals are often concerned as to why children may have auditory hypersensitivities. This review article discusses the neural mechanisms identified underlying hypersensitive hearing in people. The authors focus on brain research to support the idea of the nonclassical auditory pathways being involved in connecting the auditory system with the emotional system of the brain. The authors also discuss brain mechanisms felt to be involved in auditory hypersensitivity. The authors conclude with a discussion of some treatments for hypersensitive hearing. These treatments include desensitization training and the use of listening therapies such as The Listening Program.

If you are a parent of a child with autism, caregiver, educator, or therapist who is touched by someone with autism, or you yourself are on the autism spectrum I do hope this latest research article provides some answers, and hope for relief from over sensitivity to sounds.

 

Could a Simple Hearing Test Diagnose Autism?

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A recent study published in Autism Research is stirring controversy over reports that a simple hearing test may help with early autism diagnosis. The test is the auditory stapedial reflex (ASR) test which measures how one of the two middle ear muscles called the stapedius contracts in response to loud sounds.  According to the authors of the study an absent reflex would indicate an autism risk factor.

The reflex attenuates sudden loud sound to protect the delicate inner hair cells from damage. Without this sound dampening the auditory system is bombarded by sound which results in a number of behavioral responses such as covering of ears, running from the sound, aggression, and more.  These are characteristically fight/flight behaviors seemingly in response to sound, in this case a stressor. Last year I published an article with Dr. Jay Lucker in Autism Science Digest identifying that in most cases the response is an emotional rather than auditory response that can be trained with music listening therapy and behavioral techniques and is not exclusive to people diagnosed with autism.

If you read the research abstract (link below) you’ll see the investigators are making an argument for absent reflexes as an autism biomarker. My concern is they tested children with autism compared to a smaller group which was “neurotypical” but not other neurodevelopmental disorders which based on my experience would very likely yield the same results… Auditory deficits are a common feature in autism chief among them hypersensitivity to sound in which the brain appears unable to filter out undesirable sound resulting in pain or discomfort.  However this is also true of Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, Auditory Processing Disorder, etc.

I’m pleased to see the attention on the auditory system in the autism research field, but caution looking to the ASR as a reliable autism biomarker without further study. What are your thoughts?

Abstract:  Quantification of the Stapedial Reflex Reveals Delayed Responses in Autism Autism Res 2013

How Auditory Brain Training Can Change Your Life

Dr. Michael Merzenich, PhD

If you follow the brain fitness field the name Michael Merzenich, Ph.D. will surely ring a bell. Dr. Merzenich, is one of the neuroscientists responsible for our current understanding of brain plasticity– the notion that the brain can change itself at any age.

I’ve followed his research since the mid nineties, and have to say his work has continued to validate what we observe in the functional and behavioral changes seen in clients using Advanced Brain Technologies products like The Listening Program®; the human auditory system is highly malleable.  It is susceptible to damage with over exposure to noise resulting in negative plasticity, and conversely responsive with positive neural change when provided with structured auditory training using certain salient sounds.

Dr. Merzenich is the Chief Science Officer for Posit Science, and author of the upcoming book Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your LifeI’ve asked him to join me for How Auditory Brain Training Can Change Your Life on the next episode of the Sound Brain Fitness Teleseminar Series coming up next week.  Together we’ll discuss his new book and explore these main points:

  • How you can improve your auditory listening abilities with neuroplasticity-based training to sharply improve your conversational, cognitive, speech and music abilities.
  • How training your brain as a master listener also refines your attentive powers and amplifies your baseline level of arousal—your “brightness.”
  • Evidence that these gains are attributable to strong, positive, enduring physical changes in your brain.  The trained brain is a stronger, better brain.
  • How combining auditory training and brain training in the other great perceptual and action-control domains, you can rejuvenate a struggling brain—and if taken seriously, can assure a more effective, happier, and more secure adult life.

Please join us, Wednesday, June 5th at 8 pm Eastern. The call is free, but will be at capacity. So sign up now, and be sure to call in early to reserve your spot!     

Sleep Rhythms: And the Beat Goes On

Sound Brain Fitness Series

Your brain is a grey, wet, squishy pattern seeking machine.  From daily changes in light to microsecond scale responses to music and voices, your brain runs on and generates the rhythms of your life.  And because we are so rhythmocentric at such a basic level, events that violate your normal rhythms often have serious impacts on us.  The field of chronobiology examines how the timing of environmental and internal events affects our cognition, our health and our daily life, whether it’s transient like focusing on a task or longer term like getting enough sleep.

Next week is National Sleep Awareness Week 2013. To kick it off I’ve invited neuroscientist and author Dr. Seth Horowitz back as my guest for another episode of the Sound Brain Fitness teleseminar series. Please join us for this free teleseminar on Monday evening, March 4th at 8 pm eastern for what is sure to be an engaging hour as we explore:

  • Rhythms of the environment and how they affect the rhythms of the brain
  • Rhythms and patterns of sleep – where they come from and what they do.
  • Interrupted sleep patterns – the consequences of insomnia, disruption, and EDS
  • Weapons of choice – tools for resetting the sleep clock and their side effects
  • Why an auditory sleep aid may be right for you

I hope you’ll listen. You can register here.