Right Ear Dominance
The left hemisphere of the brain contains our auditory processing centres and the primary processing centres for the emotions, hearing, speech, speech comprehension, and language comprehension. The left side of our brain is connected to the right side of our body. Thus, our right ear has the more direct connection to the auditory processing centres. If the right ear is dominant, it channels sound directly to these centres.
Research has shown that when the right ear is the dominant ear for directing sound to the brain, we are better able to process what we hear, and we have better emotional response. Ear specialist Dr Alfred Tomatis found that by increasing the input of sound to the right ear, one can be trained to become right ear dominant.
The Sound Therapy programs encourage right ear dominance, with more sound directed through the right ear than the left.
What is wrong with left ear dominance?
If the left ear is dominant, two problems arise:
- The sounds from the left ear go first to the right brain hemisphere, and must then cross the corpus collosum connecting the two brain hemispheres to get to the language centre in the left hemisphere. This delays sound reaching the brain by a fraction of a second, causing auditory confusion and possible stuttering or dyslexia.
- Someone who is left ear dominant relates to sound principally through low frequencies with wavelengths between 35m and 140m, which results in them feeling distanced from the source of the sound. This imparts a feeling of isolation from people s/he tries to communicate with. High frequencies give meaning in language, because they define consonants plus they carry the emotional content of the message.
In experiments with singers, Dr Alfred Tomatis found that when they monitored their voices with the left ear, they lost much of the control and tonality of their voices. When they monitored themselves with the right ear only, their singing ability was superior to when both ears were used. Thus, Tomatis hypothesised that the right ear must be the dominant ear for a person to listen effectively, since it relays sounds directly to the left hemisphere of the brain.
By increasing the input of sound to the right ear, Tomatis was able to educate all of his subjects to become right ear dominant.
When he later worked with dyslexics and stutterers, Tomatis found that training them to become right ear dominant usually solved the problem.
Van Wyk (1974) found stutterers showed a significantly greater left ear dominance or non-specific ear preference, while fluent speakers showed a significantly greater right ear dominance.
Badenhorst (1975) found that the subjects with a right speech-hearing preference were:
- more able to relate appropriately to emotional stimuli
- more in control of their emotional responses
- more extroverted
- less prone to anxiety, tension, frustration and aggression.
Badenhorst, F.H. (1975). 'n Rorschachstudie van regssydiges en linkslwsteraars met gemengde laterale voorkeure. Ongepubliseerde M.-graad-skripsie, Potchefstroom Universiteit vir CHO: Potchefstroom.
Tomatis, A.A. (1969). Dyslexia. Ontario: University of Ottawa Press, 83.
Tomatis, A.A. (1978). Education and dyslexia. Fribourg: AIAPP.
Tomatis, A.A. (1996). The Ear and Language. Dorval. Ontario: Moulin.
Van Wyk, E.M. (1974). 'n Ondersoek na ouditiewe dominansie by 'n groep hakkelaars. Ongepubliseerde M.-graad-skripsie, Potchefstroom Universiteit vir CHO: Potchefstroom.
For more information about Sound Therapy, we recommend you read the book "Sound Therapy: Music to Recharge Your Brain" by Patricia Joudry & Rafaele Joudry.
It contains detailed information about how Sound Therapy was developed, how it helps various ear and brain conditions, and stories from listeners around the world talking about their experiences with Sound Therapy.