Alzheimer over several years

In regard to Alzheimer’s disease, not much can be done if a child already carries genes that promote its development. “In theory, however, playing chess could delay or halt its process, and improve a person’s quality of life. There are no current studies that I am aware of that link chess and Alzheimer’s disease, no one can predict if the disease halts or delays its process”.

If such a study were to be valid, it should be conducted over several years with people who’d played chess during their childhood or youth, in order to determine if during their adulthood, they were likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Or if during their latter years they’d played chess, and we’d compare the results with those who hadn’t played and eventually developed the disease.

“It’d be an interesting study. However, it’d be difficult to test if chess is the only variable that can delay the appearance or reverse the process of Alzheimer’s disease”.

In neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer, impairment is inevitable and irreversible. It is worth mentioning that a faster progression is not the same as a slow progression, and the latter could greatly improve the quality of life of many during longer periods of time.

Alzheimer’s disease depends on numerous factors, but it is mainly idiopathic. Therefore, according to Guevara Guzmán, the mentioned study must focus on every variable that influences the emergence of the disease.

As it is known, 10% of cases are genetically inherited while 90% rise from various causes, such as: brain injury, neuron damaging viruses or lack f blood circulation in the brain.


The strategy game of chess could promote child brain development and instruction of more mentally active children.

In theory, the game may delay the appearance and development of Alzheimer’s disease. Memory is a training process and  often times a blurred memory is sought by the nervous system through alternative paths in order to find that stored information.

When the central nervous system and memory work properly, the neural connections in the brain are being “drawn and established” thanks to training, and we are able to easily reach that stored memory:

“During childhood, the central nervous system has a tremendous learning capacity. A child exposed to chess or video games is able to develop mental strategies to solve a particular problem”, said Rosalinda Guevara Guzmán, researcher at Faculty of Medicine.

That is to say, a child may be taught the best strategies in order to achieve a result, and therefore, he will know how and where that information is stored. Thus, strategies used to win over an opponent during a game of chess, are the same strategies he will used to achieve other goals.

Chess specifically may promote child brain development and instruction of more mentally active children, with tools to solve problems.

We could perform a comparative research at UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) involving young people who play chess frequently. “ For instance, this could show their ability to solve tests, and demonstrate if chess has in any way influenced their cognitive development. This may be a variable among many others; therefore, success achieved by students must be compared and measured in order to see its relevance”.



The Chosen One: Mozart

Convinced about the importance of hearing and the possibilities of reeducating this ability, Tomatis developed a method which, with the aid of electronic equipment, the Gregorian Chant and the music of Mozart, determined the muscles of the middle ear to perform an osteo-muscular exercise meant to give the ear its natural ability of optimal hearing.

Tomatis considered that the Gregorian Chant invigorated the subject and facilitated his connection with his inner ego. The argument behind his claim is the fact that the rhythm of this music matches the rhythm of a beating heart and the breathing pace of a person who is resting. Moreover, it provides a great load of cortical energy due to its richness in high frequencies.

The choice of Mozart and his music out of all the great composers was not made at random. At the beginning of his studies, Tomatis used different types of music in various Eastern and Western cities, and realized that the only music that worked on everybody was that composed by Mozart. Therefore, he started to analyze the reason why this was happening and to study the concrete characteristics that made this music have a beneficial influence on all his patients.

Taking account of the principle which states that different frequencies influence concrete aspects of the evolutionary development, the music written by this composer is ideal for treatment, because Mozart “used very high frequencies, especially with flutes and violins, and is uniquely suited for hearing treatment, as his music is between 125 and 9000 Hz, the necessary interval for therapy”.

Apart from its frequencies, the music is perfectly suited also due to a distinctive feature that separates it from the others and gives it therapeutical properties: its freshness. This might have been caused by the fact that Mozart started to compose at the age of 4, before being introduced in the strict framework of cultural norms. His music was created with freshness and spontaneity, in the harmony of the spheres and the joy of childhood. This way, Mozart managed to store these characteristics until he reached adulthood, always adding to the riches of his own growth.

The scientific explanation is that sound gives us energy. A study on this matter, conducted by North-American researchers, concluded that the human nervous system needs to receive three billion stimuli per second, for at least four and a half hours a day, in order to reach the level of alertness (consciousness), and that more than 90 percent of this load of nerve stimuli are provided through the ear.

This offers a scientific basis to the statement regarding the therapeutical properties of Mozart’s music because, as mentioned previously, its combination of high frequencies proves ideal for achieving psychological and, eventually, nervous balance.

The Acoustic Dichotomy

From his observations, Tomatis realized that people ‘approach’ external sound, as well as the sound of their own voices, with preference for one ear. People who use mainly the right ear absorb and retain acoustic information much faster and easier, and they also have a much better control on their voice. On the other hand, people who listen mainly with their left ear are generally slower; their voices are flatter and their verbal flow is slower-paced. We need to keep in mind that the neurological connections of the ears go each to the opposite brain hemisphere; therefore, the right ear sends the information to the left hemisphere where the language center is located. This is the shortest and fastest way of processing acoustic information. In turn, the left ear sends the information to the right hemisphere, which then transfers it to the language center, with a considerable delay in comparison to the right ear. However, both ears are necessary: the right one controls; the left one offers intensity. It is optimal that they function together.

The Tomatis Effect and its Addiction to Mozart

Tomatis discovered that the fetus can hear from four and a half months into pregnancy, and that he mainly listens to his mother’s voice. From this moment on, the baby starts to establish a communicational bond with his mother. He starts developing a desire to listen, to maintain the bond, to keep receiving emotional nourishment: he is yearning to live. The voice of his mother, music and rhythm contain all the linguistic structures on which the baby’s language will be built.

The baby listens to his mother’s voice in a distinctive way, with great prevalence of higher frequencies. Tomatis and his colleagues managed to establish very precisely how the fetus listens. The vibration of the voice descends through the spine and makes the hipbones resound like the case of a violoncello. The fetus, who is completely immersed in amniotic fluid, receives the sound directly in his internal ear. Later, when the baby grows and wants to hear the voice of his mother more clearly, he will try to get his head closer to his mother’s pelvic bones. Tomatis claims that this way, the baby turns and settles in the headfirst position, preparing for birth.

Tomatis Effect details

The experiments made Tomatis formulate laws that bear his name and which in 1953 were officially recognized by the French Academy of Science.

The law states the following:

  • The voice produces what the ear hears.
  • If a person’s hearing is modified, their voice is immediately and unconsciously modified.
  • It is possible to transform the voice by means of continuous auditory stimulation undertaken over a certain time (the law of Remanence).

The Tomatis Effect

Alfred Tomatis received his medical otorhinolaryngology diploma in Paris, 1949, and started receiving his patients, many of whom were opera singers, friends of his father – a famous French baritone. They came to show the young physician their vocal cords and ask for advice regarding tuning problems, loss or lack of voice color and timbre quality, loss of control on the vibrato, problems related to volume or vocal placement, and many other issues regarding voice, singing and speaking.

Tomatis helped them using the techniques and medicines of that time. He said that once, while trying to tighten the vocal chords of a singer, he increased the dose of strychnine to such extent, that the man was on the point of choking on scene, and still continued to sing flat.

One day, while looking at his patients’ audiograms, he found a resemblance between those of factory workers who had suffered acoustic trauma and those of the singers. He realized that in spite of their different professions, they presented a similar graphic in regard to their acoustic responses. Both had a drop in acoustic sensitivity at 4000 Hz. He examined a great number of audiograms, and after analyzing them and finding the same characteristics, he concluded that voice depends on the ability to hear, and if hearing is damaged, voice is automatically affected, too.

He performed experiments on singers, using audio filters. He had them sing in front of a microphone and he directed the sound towards an electronic machine which allowed him to reduce or amplify frequency as he liked. Then he transmitted the modified voice to the singers through headphones, thus controlling the voice emission. The results were surprising. Tomatis modified the voice of the singer the way he wanted. If he prevented the singer from hearing frequencies superior to 4000 Hz, for example, the voice immediately stopped producing those frequencies which affected the quality of the voice and the music. Likewise, when he resumed transmitting those frequencies clearly to the ear, the voice recovered all its qualities, its musicality, timbre and color.

Music and its effects on the development of the brain

Research on the effect of music on the brain of children has shown that music activates the cerebral cortex, particularly the frontal and occipital areas, which are responsible for spatial-temporal reasoning. Moreover, by evaluating the effects of music by means of EEG recordings, it has been observed that music provokes an alpha-type electrical brain wave. All these discoveries show the following things about music (particularly in respect to classical music composed by Mozart):

  • Enhances memory, attention and concentration in children.
  • Helps improve the ability to solve math problems and complex reasoning questions.
  • Is a means of expression.
  • Familiarizes children with the sounds and meanings of words and reinforces learning.
  • Offers the opportunity for children to interact to one another and also with the grown-ups.
  • Stimulates creativity and imagination in children.
  • When combined with dancing, it quickens the senses, supports balance and promotes the development of the muscles.
  • Evokes memories and images that enrich the intellect.
  • Encourages the overall development of the child, influencing all the areas of development.

The Tomatis Effect and its Addiction to Mozart

Music in the brain of the child

From an anatomical point of view, the baby’s internal ear is completely developed by mid-pregnancy. However, this does not mean that from that moment on, the baby can hear everything that is going on. Although the auditory capacity is by far the most studied of the body functions, opinions still differ: when does the baby start hearing and what exactly does he hear?

What we know for sure is that while in the womb, the baby reacts to a wide variety of sounds. Also, we should consider that he grows in an environment naturally rich in sounds: his mother’s heartbeats, the sound of blood flowing in his own umbilical cord, the growling of his mother’s intestines. It has also been proven that, at least in the third trimester, the baby can perceive external noises like loud bangs, his parents’ voices, or even music, and that he responds to these stimuli by moving. He can even react to sounds that are of too high or too low frequency for the human ear to perceive (such as ultrasounds).

A few weeks or months later, the newborn is easily comforted when placed near his mother’s heart – perhaps because he remembers the sounds he used to hear when he was in the womb.