The Science of Sound: The Psychoacoustics approach – Part 1


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Everyone knows that listening to music can be calming, a steady rain can induce sleep, and white noise can help keep focus at bay. But sound therapy has a long history and is being used as a successful form of therapy in many conditions. Let’s start by focusing on one of the science that has studied sound and its effect on the human beings; psychoacoustics!

Psychoacoustics is the study of the perception of sound. It explains how we listen, our psychological response to sound, and the effect of sound and music on the nervous system. It has emerged in the 1940s with the work of the French physician Alfred Tomatis, MD and recognized by the French Academy of Science and Medicine for his revolutionary research and clinical work in the area of hearing and sound.

Based on decades of studies, researchers have proven that specific frequencies can indeed be used to heal and enhance our lives; especially against stress, to improve mental productivity, accelerate learning, minimize pain, facilitate healing, etc. This is pretty amazing, and I’m still not sure why the findings below are not mentioned in medicine studies or even in our anatomy’s classes at school…


Sound therapy is based on the principles of frequencies, resonance and entrainment[1], thus bringing a physiological and neurological response in the brain and body.

Dr. Alfred Tomatis’ most groundbreaking findings relates to the fact that  the ear not only serves to listen, to communicate and to aid in our balance, but that its primary purpose is to convert sound waves into electro-chemical impulses that charge the neo-cortex of the brain. According to him[2], a deficiency in specific frequencies is the root cause of many ailments. The good news is that we can retrain the middle ear to the full spectrum of frequencies and therefore heal or improve those issues. He was indeed the first doctor to prescribe sound frequencies in lieu of pharmaceuticals!

“An open ear can assimilate more of the nutrients of sound – thereby facilitating stimulation of the brain and nervous system. The effects of limited tonal or sequential processing may have a definitive impact on learning, mental and physical wellness” (A.Tomatis, PhD Paris School of Medicine)

After him, Dr. Robert and Alex Doman (dad and son, US neurologists working with neuro-developmentally delayed children) worked from Tomatis’ findings and developed it further with years of experiments in their clinics and with the help of other doctors and experts. They found that Sound therapy was actually the best ways to treat these kids, and they prove that music and sound can indeed unlock human potential in great ways, for healing purposes as well as enhancing performances and general well-being. And that’s not all, but we’ll go more in details in the next Sound Science post! 🙂

Here are the 4 major findings from the Psycho-acoustics researches:

  • Pure Sound vibrations and Music are nutrients for the nervous system, like food and liquids are for our physical body;
  • There are different types of sound; those who charge and energize us and those who drain us;
  • The auditory mechanism is not just a process that helps us to hear and communicate; it’s indeed a mega-portal to the brain;
  • Specific sonic tools can be developed, based on the principles of resonance, entrainment, frequencies filtering and gating, and these tools do empower health, learning and productivity. Most of them, such as the Tomatis Method, use headphones as a medium, because different frequencies can be played in each ear, creating ELFs (Extremely Low Frequencies) which are affecting brainwaves. However, acoustics sounds are usually preferred to digital sounds[3]. The sonic solutions usually recommended in the field of psychoacoustics consist of specially reinforced and filtered music and sounds. And the results achieved by the thousands of centers around the world are actually startling (Tomatis centers, music therapy associations, Brain-Sync, Monroe Institute, etc.).







[1] Resonance: The effect of one vibration on another. Entrainment: Changing the rate of brainwaves, breath or heartbeat by matching an external periodic force (rhythm, frequency, etc.)  [2] And proven right by many after him, such as Dr. A.Doman, P.Joudry, Dr. G.Berard, etc. [3] The Gong is one of the best acoustic sound to listen to, as it creates a huge amount of ELFs, allowing the brain to entrain with the best wave available for it and therefore switching to either full relaxation, pure meditation, deep sleep, or whatever feels best at any given time.

Sources: Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D., ‘Sounds of Healing’, Broadway Books, 1999 /                                          Joshua Leeds, ‘The power of sound’, Healing Arts Press, 2001,, FB:


Sound events in March:

-Sat 24 Mar, 4-5.30pm, Sound Relaxation @ Prana Lounge, 60 Horton Place, Col.07, Rs.2,000/- (Rachel,

-Thu 29 Mar, 6-8pm, How to play gong – A practical session, @ 9 Greenlands Lane, Col.05, Rs.2,500/- (Hari Karam & Madeleine)

-Sat 31 Mar, 6.15-7.30pm, Sound Relaxation @ Om Shambala, 143 Fife Rd, Col.05, Rs.2,000/- (Rachel,

-Sat 31 Mar, 6-7.30pm, Gong Bath @ Sri Yoga Shala, Thalpe, Galle, Rs.2,000/- (Fiona,


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