Girls with Rett Syndrome Benefit from The Listening Program

Rett syndrome is a unique developmental disorder first recognized in infancy and is generally seen in girls. It is often misdiagnosed as autism, cerebral palsy, or a developmental delay. Caused by mutations in the X chromosome it occurs in 1 of every 10,000-23,000 female births. Rett syndrome causes problems in the brain affecting; learning, communication, sensory processing, movement, breathing, cardiac function, chewing, swallowing, digestion, and more.

The host of challenges that come with a Rett syndrome diagnosis affect the family as a whole, with most individuals requiring assistance in most every aspect of their life. The needs vary through the four stages of Rett syndrome from Early Onset, Rapid Destructive, Plateau, and on to Late Motor Deterioration.

A British research study showed that 5 girls with Rett Syndrome benefitted from listening to a music listening method developed by my company Advanced Brain Technologies called The Listening Program®. The findings show improvements in a number of areas with the strongest trend toward increased engagement and decreased anxiety. Sensory processing appears to be improving which is consistent with outcomes of other studies.  These findings were presented by the investigator Helen Francis at the International Rett Syndrome Congress in Paris back in October 2008.

We are encouraged by these results and the potential to improve the quality of life for those with Rett syndrome. A larger controlled trial should be conducted, and I am hopeful this study will help make that happen.

Review the research poster and learn more about Rett syndrome at the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.

We Read With Our Ears

It may sound strange but we read with our ears. A recent study at Northwestern provides clear evidence to support the groundbreaking theories developed by the late Alfred Tomatis, M.D. in the mid twentieth century about the role the ear plays in reading.

The vast majority of school-aged children can focus on the voice of a teacher amid the cacophony of the typical classroom thanks to a brain that automatically focuses on relevant, predictable and repeating auditory information, according to new research from Northwestern University.

But for children with developmental dyslexia, the teacher’s voice may get lost in the background noise of banging lockers, whispering children, playground screams and scraping chairs, the researchers say. Their study appears in the Nov. 12 issue of Neuron.

Recent scientific studies suggest that children with developmental dyslexia — a neurological disorder affecting reading and spelling skills in 5 to 10 percent of school aged children — have difficulties separating relevant auditory information from competing noise.

The research from Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory not only confirms those findings but presents biological evidence that children who report problems hearing speech in noise also suffer from a measurable neural impairment that adversely affects their ability to make use of regularities in the sound environment.

“The ability to sharpen or fine-tune repeating elements is crucial to hearing speech in noise because it allows for superior ‘tagging’ of voice pitch, an important cue in picking out a particular voice within background noise,” said Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

In the article “Context-dependent encoding in the human auditory brainstem relates to hearing speech-in-noise: Implications for developmental dyslexia,” Kraus and co-investigators Bharath Chandrasekaran, Jane Hornickel, Erika Skoe and Trent Nicol demonstrate that the remarkable ability of the brain to tune into relevant aspects in the soundscape is carried out by an adaptive auditory system that continuously changes its activity based on the demands of context.1  Click here for full article.

These findings are consistent with part of the underlying theories behind our work at Advanced Brain Technologies. This research and studies on musical training at Northwestern provides support to warrant further studies on the potential of using music listening therapy (The Listening Program®) as an intervention for struggling readers.

1 Retrieved November 12, 2009

Estrogen Affects Auditory Sensitivity

Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered that the hormone estrogen plays a pivotal role in how the brain processes sounds.

The findings, published in the May 5 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, show for the first time that a sex hormone can directly affect auditory function, and point toward the possibility that estrogen controls other types of sensory processing as well. Understanding how estrogen changes the brain’s response to sound, say the authors, might open the door to new ways of treating hearing deficiencies.

Of particular interest is that estrogen modulates the gain of auditory neurons. This finding could be a critical to the successful treatment of  sound discrimination problems and hypersensitivity to sounds in the future. 

University of Rochester (2009, May 6). Estrogen Controls How The Brain Processes Sound. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 5, 2009, from

Good Vibrations

Using Music to Enhance Sensory Processing



Ben had serious balance and mobility issues and delays in his language development. Having Neurofibromatosis (NF1), such developmental delay is often seen. In June 2007 he began The Listening Program® from Advanced Brain Technologies using the relatively new addition of bone conduction stimulation.

“Very quickly, Ben’s language skyrocketed. He began to speak in 4-7 key word sentences with much more accurate sound reproduction”  Ben’s Mum, Helen

As the developer of The Listening Program® we at Advanced Brain Technologies are very happy for Ben and the wonderful gains he is making in his life.  What an inspiration he is!  

Read the full article written by Alan Heath that was published in SEN Magazine in the United Kingdom.