Energy through our Ears: Why High and Low Frequencies Affect Behavior, Emotions, Speech and Language
This article provides helpful information about the energy in our ears and how it affects our child’s learning development. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
In every locker room in the world, no matter the sport, music is always blaring before a big game. This pumps up the athletes to go out and give the game their all. This isn’t just psychological; there is a physical part of the body that handles this process. This same body part is also at play when we are feeling groggy and tired, but then when we go work out at the gym, we feel energized. What is this body part? The ear.
Energy that Comes Through Our Ears
“A little known function of the ear is transforming stimuli from our environment into energy. The ear is a generator for the nervous system and brain” (Listening for Wellness). The vestibule, a part of the ear that contributes to hearing, not only listens to signals and sends them to the brain, but it also transforms body movements into energy. Any time we dance, walk, or work out, our body sends vibrations to the vestibule. The vestibule sends messages to the brain where they are processed into energy. “50% of the energy that the brain needs to function optimally comes from those body sensations which are channeled through the vestibule” (Listening For Wellness).
One of the questions that a doctor might ask you if you are feeling depressed is, “how often are you exercising?” You may think that you don’t have the energy to exercise, but the more you move the more that the vestibule can transform your movements into energy, feeding that into the brain. If you are not moving enough, 50% of your energy is completely drained. The vestibule not only uses movement to send energy to the brain, it also works with the cochlea to convert sound into energy.
High Frequency Sounds
“High frequencies are food for the brain. They energize it, stimulate it, make it alert and enable it to focus and remember” (Listening for Wellness). The cochlea is a huge help when it comes to giving us energy. The cochlea is filled with tiny hair cells that help turn frequencies into sounds. The hair cells “are thinly spaced in the low frequency zone, becoming more numerous in the high frequency zone. Just the sheer number of cells receiving high frequency sounds already explains why they charge the brain more than low frequency sounds. In addition, high frequencies already carry more energy than low frequencies” (Listening for Wellness).
Frequencies may not seem important at first, but it’s one way we help ground a child’s emotions if they struggle with sensory issues, slow processing and are often distracted by ambient noise in the background that causes them to lose focus and attention. Using a mixture of high and low frequencies with music therapy can be a powerful resource in reorganizing the brain and can prep it for speech and language development, auditory processing and higher learning.
Low Frequency Sounds
The saccule, located in the ear, responds to sounds in the low frequency range. Any sound with a low base, like rock music or rap makes us want to move. “Sound induces movement and, in doing so, contributes to our energy level” (Listening for Wellness). Because of the nature of low frequency sound, too much can exhaust us. “With rock, the liquid inside the semicircular canals of the vestibule starts to rotate, and we yield to its rhythms. If it keeps rotating as the music goes on, we may soon find ourselves in a state of trance.” (Listening for Wellness).
Low frequency sounds are actually used for leaders who want to manipulate or brainwash their people. All of the major speeches given by Adolf Hitler came after a lot of drumming that would put listeners into a hypnotic trance! Due to these dangers, we need to be careful of the types of frequencies we hear and balance them to obtain the right amount of energy, just as if we were watching our calories. An example of a good balance is a military march. They mix low frequency sounds (the drums) that make soldiers want to move but also can be tiring, and high frequency sounds (the trumpets) that stimulate the brain and give it energy so the soldiers can march longer.
As we combine these same low and high frequencies together through music therapy, troubled behavior often becomes more calm, attention and focus improves, information is retained, and the child’s balance and coordination is strengthened.
Ears, Energy and Learning
“In general, we will do better when there is a balanced mix of low and high frequencies” (Listening for Wellness). Because of the importance of a mix of high and low frequencies, different types of sound is good for the classroom. There should be a mix of quiet time, work time with partners, and working time with music. This practice is pretty normal in an elementary school classroom, but can be difficult in the upper grades due to lack of time.
Students should also be able to move around at least once an hour. If they don’t, that is 50% of energy lost and therefore they will be tired and unwilling or unable to pay attention. Seek out a teacher that has flexible seating so students can be moving around as well as engaged. Make sure that the elementary teacher prioritizes physical education time. In upper grades, students often get lectured to all day. Seek out teachers who make an effort to get kids moving by presenting, or working in groups.
Lastly, it’s very important that your student talks. “Talking stimulates our ears and thus our brain” (Listening for Wellness). When we talk, we are hearing our voice just like we would hear others talking to us. Talking stimulates our vestibule and cochlea, giving our brain energy. “That self-produced energy is no more evidence than after we have sung or given a speech. Opera singers are known to be unable to sleep right after a performance because they are so charged by their own voices that they feel alert and full of life” (Listening for Wellness).
Have good conversations at the dinner table; make sure that your student is talking with other students during recess or between classes. If you are a teacher, emphasize group work and presentations, especially at difficult times of the day, (after lunch, end of the day) so that you can help students to self-produce their energy. With the vestibule and cochlea power combined, they produced 80 to 90 percent of our body’s energy. We need to feed our child’s brain using movements and sounds.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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