This discovery was corroborated in numerous clinical examinations carried out by A. TOMATIS at a French aeronautics plant on a wide selection of individuals subjected to intense industrial noise resulting in hearing failure similar to that observed in professional singers. It was to be the subject of papers given at the Paris Academy of Sciences and the Paris Academy of Medicine in 1957 and 1960; the principle, henceforth referred to as the «TOMATIS effect», was to be expressed by three laws which are as follows:
By extension, it should be understood that this Method is founded on a certain number of presuppositions concerning the way in which the human being develops, processes intoation, communicates with him or her and others, and finally how he or she learns; among these presuppositions, the following should be remembered:
The quality of listening, which depends on the synergy between the certainty in spatio-temporal awareness assured by the vestibular system and correct acoustic analysis assured by the cochlear system, is directly linked to human development and behavior. The human ear has the ability to transmit the intoation coming from the gravitational sphere and the acoustic environment to the brain, by subdividing it, as well as sending charges to the cortex. Better listening and better attention in relation to verbal language are preconditions required for other developmental functions, such as cognition, communication, socialization and adaptive development. An improvement of listening and the organization of communicative responses lessen frustration, anger and other maladjusted behavior. Better listening and better attention in relation to verbal language are directly related to the ability to fully participate in family, collective and educational activities.
The Tomatis Method includes multiple proprietary components of equipment and materials: the Electronic Ear (EE), special earphones for bone and air conduction, Listening Test Machine for giving a Listening Test, enhanced proprietary recordings (music tapes/CDs, including Mozart, Gregorian Chant, and a variety of active voice tapes), and program protocols for machine settings and audio recordings to use with different types of applications with individual users.
The most essential part of the Tomatis Method is the EE. This device is connected to a good quality CD that allows high frequencies up to at least 20,000 Hz to be heard. The EE can filter recordings of music and voice, and the sound travels through two channels, with different settings. A gating mechanism alternates the sound between the channels when it reaches a specific intensity. Through a microphone connected to the EE, one’s ear can receive good quality audio-vocal feedback of one’s voice.
The EE is designed to educate the ear to its full functioning, generally as a cerebral stimulator and specifically as a discriminator and a balance mechanism. The right ear is trained to be the leading or dominant ear to make for the most efficient processing of speech directly by the speech centers in the left hemisphere of the brain. The Tomatis Method continues to evolve as technology changes and research expands the field.
In order to be able to apply the three laws mentioned above, A. TOMATIS came to develop a sophisticated device called the «Electronic Ear» capable of modifying the way in which a subject listened, and, consequently, a subject’s way of speaking. By the same token, it appeared indispensable to him to elaborate genuine audio-vocal conditioning forcing the ear to use a mode of accommodation which determined a typical way of listening and which trained the corresponding vocal ability.
As the auditory sensor is required to adapt to the surrounding sound environment, this function of accommodation is governed by the middle ear. It is therefore on the middle ear that the Electronic Ear acts first. To do so, the electronic switcher contained in the device amplifies the sound rhythm. This allows to induce contractions in the muscles of the hammer and the stirrup bone through successive pulses, acting on the one hand on the convexity of the tympani, when then behave as an acoustic lens, a sort of auditory crystalline lens, and on the other hand on the inner ear, the centre of the sound analysis, through the pressure exerted through the oval window.
This accommodation tends to be quite rapid. It determines the spatial position of the auditory ossicles, allowing to open a given auditory bandwidth and to increase the size of the diaphragm opening according to need.
However, the Electronic Ear doesn’t just act on the revitalization of the muscles of the auditory ossicles; it also enables one to act on parameters such as the latency time, generally depending on the subjects and the situations encountered, since it concerns the time required by our auditory sensor in the accommodation of external messages. This time can seem to be quite long, depending on the circumstances, which are often psychological. It can also have quite a different signification when it is used in songs, traditional airs, and storytelling.
A third function of the Electronic Ear is to allow to play on the precession stemming from bone conduction in relation to air conduction, inducing a phenomenon of «prevision» inherent to the functioning of the inner ear; this parameter is decisive where the integration of a language is concerned, whether maternal or foreign.
Finally, a fourth function of the Electronic Ear allows to establish auditive laterality, in favoring the dominant function of the right ear during the process of self-controlled production of sounds by the subject. Indeed, bad auditive laterality, notably where the use of the left ear is favored, leads to a dysfunction in vocal emission such as the loss of timbre or arrhythmia.
The Electronic Ear is therefore an indispensable device for the implementation and application of the TOMATIS Method. Through its various functions it will in fact allow to train and to develop as required the listening function, which, inevitably introduces a real psychological dimension: listening means wanting to hear, knowing that listening is an active phenomenon whereas hearing is a passive phenomenon.
The objective of the TOMATIS Method, therefore, is to develop the listening function and thereby the communication function, notably by making full use of the auditory function so as to give each person the desire and the opportunity to develop his or her full potential.