Stress Response System in the Ear Protects Against Hearing Loss

The ear serves in part as an environmental monitoring system, sending the brain signals in response to vibrational input to understand the world around us; to move, learn, communicate, adapt, survive and thrive.

The middle ear is the gateway to a neural filtering system that helps us receive auditory information such as human speech and to simultaneously filter out unwanted sound or noise which can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear resulting in hearing loss, hyperacousis, stress, and a host of other problems. 

Many recognize the vital connection between the ear and body’s fight-flight response, which is physiologically linked from the middle ear to the vagal regulation system. The polyvagal theory of psychologist Stephen Porges provides a clear understanding of this mechanism. The Listening Program® with bone conduction technology is used in part as a training method to improve the function of this system.

Now a new in vivo study at Tufts University shows for the first time that there is a stress response system within the cochlea (inner ear) that mirrors the signaling pathways of the fight-flight response and protects against noise induced hearing loss. This is an exciting finding that further reveals what a marvel the auditory system is and the critical role it plays in our lives.

Read more about the Tufts study.

Research Poster: Exploring Porges’ Theory of Social Engagement

Exploring Porges’ Theory of Social Engagement: Using a music stimulation program for an 8 year old boy with autism

This research poster was presented November 16-19 at the Mozart & Science 2008 – 2nd International Congress for the Interdisciplinary Research on the Effects and the Experience of Music at the Palais Niedrosterreich in Vienna, Austria.

This case study compares the elements, protocols, and reported outcomes of an enhanced music stimulation program and the listening project created by Porges to test his theory of social engagement on autistic individuals who are known to have difficulties in this area.

Read more

To learn more about The Listening Program® method of music-based auditory stimulation used in this research please visit

Fight-Flight, Music Improves Social Engagement

Earlier this year the publisher of SI Focus Magazine- Kathleen E. Morris, MS, CCC/SLP invited me to write an article on The Listening Program® method of music-based auditory stimulation for their Spring 2008 Issue.  The article touches on the role of the auditory system in the regulation of social engagement.  It also explores the use of The Listening Program as an intervention that has demonstrated improvements in social engagement for children on the autism spectrum. 

The close of the article includes a case summary of a young boy called Michael who I am fortunate to have met. It is children like Michael that make our work at ABT so meaningful.

We recently received re-print permission so I thought I would share the article here. I look forward to your comments.