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A New Understanding of the Ear 

"One sings –
or one speaks –
with one’s ear."


- Alfred A. Tomatis
The Conscious Ear: My Life of Transformation Through Listening


The Tomatis® Method is based on a new understanding of the ear, which draws a critical distinction between listening and hearing.

Listening Versus Hearing

Dr. Alfred Tomatis emphasized listening as different from hearing. Hearing is the passive reception of sound while listening is the active participation in what one hears. It is possible to have good hearing, but poor listening. Dr. Tomatis found that by improving your listening, you can improve your day-to-day functioning in many areas.​

Dr. Tomatis proved through scientific research that the voice can only produce what the ear can hear. If a sound is returned to the ear, it is immediately regained in the voice. And, if the ear is re-trained for a minimal amount of time, the changes are long lasting. This proven premise is called the Tomatis Effect.

The ear plays a unique and critical role in our daily living. The positive effects of good listening are far-reaching. For instance:​

  • The ear is the first organ to fully function around 5 months in utero.

  • Sound is critical in normal human development.

    • “Stimulation activates neural pathways and, in the developing fetus and infant, acts as an organizing principle for the developing nervous system.” *

  • The ear and nervous system are intricately connected.

    • The vagus nerve connects to the vestibulocochlear nerve in the brain and travels throughout the body, affecting many major organ functions.

    • The vestibular/cochlea nerve from the inner ear is connected to the brain and effects balance and speech and language.

  • The ear is connected to the body through three tracts Tomatis called integrators:

    • Vestibular (or somatic) integrator for body image, movement

    • Visual (or spatial) integrator for ear/eye connection

    • Cochlear (or linguistic) integrator for brain stimulation

Tomatis proved, and we now understand, that if you change the ear, you affect all of the body’s major organs. These changes, in turn, can produce revolutionary changes and improvements in how we function. 

* Tomatis as quoted in Andrews, Susan, and Billie Thompson. “An Historical Commentary on the Physiological Effects of Music: Tomatis, Mozart and Neuropsychology.” Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science: Official Journal of the Pavlovian Society. 35: 3 (2000): 183.

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