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Brain Balance Music is designed and customized to Dr. Robert J. Melillo’s specifications, based on extensive research and knowledge that certain types and frequencies of sound are specifically processed by the two hemispheres of the brain differently. By using specific music and sounds Brain Balance Music may help to stimulate one hemisphere more than the other and possibly create more balance in the brain.
The majority of symptoms in children and adults including attention deficits, learning disabilities, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, chronic pain and many more are all directly a result of an imbalance of electrical activity in the brain. There are many environmental factors that can produce an imbalance of electrical activity and function of the two sides of the brain documented as either an increase of activity on one side or a decreased activity on the other. Research has shown that the side of the brain that is most problematic is most often the side that is understimulated. The use of Brain Balance Music as as source of stimulation to the brain may be a very powerful tool to achieve a balance of brain activity.
Adverse activity is the right hemisphere, which is thought to be the one in ADD, OCD, anxiety disorder, and autism is specifically stimulated by low frequency tones, negative, or downbeat music, and music that creates images such as environmental sounds without words. Decreased activity in the left hemisphere which is seen in dyslexia, learning disabilities, poor memory and depression too name a few, is stimulated by high frequency tones, positive or upbeat music, words and repetitive mathematical, rhythmic sounds. We have created Brain Balance Music utilizing these facts as well as other research into how sound effects the hemispheres. Brain Balance Music is designed specifically to create a balance of activity between the hemispheres.
DIRECTIONS FOR USE:
You should listen to the music three to five times a day for at least ten-minute sessions. Either a disc player or mp3 player should be used with one earpiece taken out or removed. In this instance, you will listen to the music in the ear opposite the side of the brain hemisphere that we wish to stimulate i.e. music in the left ear for the right brain etc. If a personal player with earpiece is not used and music is played out in the open, an earplug can be used in the ear that is on the same side of the brain as we wish to stimulate. For example, to stimulate the right hemisphere, place the earplug in the right ear. With the earplug in place, music can be played in the background. In this instance, the music should be kept on for at least 15 minutes. If you cannot tolerate either a music player or an earplug, simply play the music in the background at the same volume level for 15 minute intervals. Since Brain Balance Music is specifically designed to stimulate either the right or left brain, it will still have a specific stimulating effect without the isolation of one ear from listening.
Addressing Functional Disconnection in Our Kids
By Margaret Emory
“The bottom line is it’s about measuring function and understanding where a child is good and where they’re struggling. And when you see these functional imbalances, it’s really a maturity imbalance. Certain skills are just immature in certain areas of the brain compared to those in others. One side is more delayed than the other. There’s a pattern to it, and each child’s is different and unique.”
—Dr. Robert Melillo
The statistics are alarming. According to the CDC, 25 percent of children have some developmental disability, and that number is in-creasing at about 15 to 20 percent per year. This means that in 5 years it will basically double. Dr. Robert Melillo considers this an epidemic. He is an internationally renowned lecturer, author, educator, researcher and clinician in the areas of neurology, rehabilitation, neuropsychology, and neurobehavioral disorders in children. He is also co-founder of Brain Balance Achievement Center, a supplemental learning center that helps children between the ages of 4 and 17 with neurobehavioral challenges — such as ADHD, dyslexia, and Tourette and Asperger syndromes — reach their academic, social and behavioral potential through a drug-free, integrated approach.
We’ve come a long way from the split-brain studies of the ’60s by Philip Vogel, Roger Sperry and Joseph Bogen in California, where they cut the corpus callosum, the white matter bridge between the two hemispheres, to stop the spread of seizures. Although this led to a greater understanding of the specialization in each hemisphere, Dr. Melillo asserts in a recent interview, “Pop psychology, with its penchant for the sensational, took the information about left and right brain differences and flew with it. To the point that science dropped the discussion altogether.”
With the advent of sophisticated brain imaging tools like the fMRI and PET scan in the ’90s, it became clear that both sides of the brain do everything. But, Melillo cautions, “There are certain areas of the brain on either side that are more specialized to do certain things and not do other things as well. This is where we realize the whole trick to the human brain is not really looking at one side or the other, but actually it’s when we can integrate both sides together. And the integration is not just a physical connection in the corpus callosum but a temporal connection [timing] where we have to coordinate areas of the brain to work together and come online at the exact same moment of time.”
Children are born with the full complement of brain cells but only 25 percent, about 350 grams, of their adult brain weight. By the next three years, they’ll have 1,100 grams, which is 90 percent of their adult size. Melillo claims,
“It’s not a matter of adding brain cells; if any- thing, they lose them during that period. Each brain cell becomes thicker and develops more protein; also glial cells, which wrap and insulate themselves around the axons. The majority of the growth comes through the rapid development of what are called functional connections.”
When a child is born, certain genes that build functional connections in the brain get turned on. These make up an estimated 85 percent of our genes. As Melillo explains, “These are the most sensitive genes because the brain is the only organ that adapts to its environment constantly throughout our whole life. No other organ does that. So our brain and the genes that control our brain are designed to be very adaptive to the environment. When there are problems present, what we see are those genes that should be turned on to build these functional connections aren’t being turned on the way they should be.”
In his latest book, Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders — and What Parents Can Do Now (December 2012), Melillo suggests that environmental factors are mostly to blame, as they interfere with the expression of genes. “This is called epigenetics. We’re not seeing so much genetic mutations or damage to DNA. We’re seeing more epi mutations, where genes are not being turned on when they’re sup- posed to be. Genes that are seen to be mostly affected in ADHD, dyslexia and autism control these functional connections.”
Melillo also points out that the sides of the brain develop at different times. The right side of the brain develops in the womb and through the first two to three years of life. Development then switches over to the left side for the next two to three years; then back to the right side and so on through childhood and adolescence. Eventually, both sides of the brain are linked up. But if something in the womb or pre-conception or even during the first two to three years of life interferes with the expression of genes that are building these functional connections, then that side of the brain is going to be delayed or underconnected in its development, which can lead to an imbalance that ultimately can lead to a functional disconnection.
Dr. Melillo believes that adjusting environmental factors can prevent the onset of autism, dyslexia and other functional disconnections. For instance, if a mother takes prenatal vitamins three months before and for the first month of pregnancy, she lowers her risk of having a child with autism by about 60 percent. A mother diagnosed with diabetes, obesity or hypertension — any one of those three elevates the risk of having such a child by 60 percent, or by 150 percent each for another developmental disability like a learning disability or ADHD. Children with an imbalance in brain development often lack skills in one area and have an abundance or superiority of skills in another. For instance, certain children are gifted in areas pertaining to one side of the brain because they have parents who might be dominant on that side and are therefore born with naturally better skills on that side of the brain. Melillo explains, “Autism, ADHD are where the parents have extreme left-dominant skills, and you have a delay in right-side skills developing, which creates a deficiency in the right side of the brain. It’s like having a really fast Pentium processor in the left side of the brain and a really slow one in the right side. The two sides work independently, but they can’t share information because they’re at different processing speeds.”
Melillo acknowledges the research of scientists Norman Geschwind and Albert Galaburda, who in the ’80s studied physical imbalances between the brain hemispheres. They noted, particularly in people with dyslexia, that along with physical imbalances, there was an uneven- ness of skills. Where these people had struggled with language and learning, their visual and spatial skills were exceptional. Gershwind called this a “pathology of superiority.” The strength of one side created a deficit in the other. Dr. Melillo explains the “timing” effect of connection: “Looking at network theory, we’re seeing that there are hubs that develop in the brain … like at airports. As brains develop and become more mature, they become more effi- cient and develop certain hubs. Those hubs link networks together. It’s not so much injury to an area of the brain that causes disorder, but that injury disrupts a whole hub. If a bomb exploded in the Atlanta airport, the damage to the airport would be one thing. More devastating would be that it would disrupt every single flying pattern in the world. It goes way beyond the damage in the airport.”
The achievement program that Melillo offers at his Brain Balance Achievement Center provides a customized series of exercises for the child that stimulate and bring up to speed the delayed or underdeveloped areas of the brain, which create the symptoms and onset of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, OCD, tics, learning disabilities and processing disorders.
“When we specifically stimulate certain areas that are responsible for certain hubs, we’re stimulating receptors that are connected to them — like light receptors or sound receptors in the ear or skin or smell, or stimulating certain areas in the brain that are responsible for reading or paying attention,” he says. “Stimulating an area of the brain causes it to fire at a faster rate. You increase what we call the ‘frequency of firing.’”
Dr. Melillo explains further. “Let’s say if I were to shine a light in your eye, and it goes to your brain. What’s happening is the photons of light are literally pressing on receptors in the back of your eye, and, the stronger the light is, the harder and longer they’re pressing. And the stronger they’re pressed, the faster the fir- ing. That’s how the brain registers that there is more stimulae not less — how you can tell that the light is really bright or not so bright. So when you do that over a period of time, because of neuroplasticity, those brain cells will grow thicker and faster, and eventually you will permanently change the speed of that area of the brain. The normal level of firing will be at a faster rate than before.” Dr. Melillo’s approach is holistic. “With Brain Balance, we’re assessing the child and looking at everything. We look at motor skills, sensory skills, cognitive skills, academic and behavior. We look at their diet and nutrition, because what the research also shows is that if we don’t build the brain properly as a child, then we don’t get that proper control later in life. For example, many of these children have problems with their digestive system — they have what we call a leaky gut. They also have problems regulating their autonomic system, so their sympathetic and parasympathetic system is off; they have imbalances in their immune system. And what we see is that the two sides of the brain control things differently.”
Brain Balance uses standardized academic tests, behavior tests, and physical, sensory and motorized tests to quantify function based on age and grade level. By targeting the areas of the brain that are delayed and underdeveloped, they can create a training program for each child that is disorder-specific and individualized to each child’s needs. Over the years, through the research of Richard Davidson and his own pilot studies, Melillo sees certain patterns that have led to the development of his programs. For instance, many children with autism are picky eaters. “They don’t have a normal sense of smell. They don’t know how to sniff, how to breathe; they sniff out when they try to smell. We stimulate that … have them do smell exercises. We make a game out of it. The smell game: Give them different smells, asking them to tell us what it is. And if they can’t tell, we give them choices. We let them smell it again, and they start to register it. After a while, they get them right, eat normally, social skills develop, [they] start to use their eyes normally. That’s one activity.”
There are others, such as movement exercises to minimize visual problems and heighten skin sensitivity. Physical activities like jumping rope and saying the alphabet at the same time, or clapping along to a metronome, can kinesthetically exercise the brain. Melillo is a proponent of aromatherapy, noting that studying to pungent scents such as peppermint, lime, eucalyptus and coffee can strengthen the right side of the brain, while sweeter smells like cherry, chocolate, cinnamon and pine strengthen the left side.
Music is also effective. Classical music and minor tones for the right side, upbeat and major tones for the left side. Over the years, Melillo has worked with composer Lisa Erhard to develop a line of music called that specifically addresses strengthening each hemisphere. It’s called Brain Balance Music, and, as he explains, “Even if the child listens with both ears, it goes to the specific side more than the other.”
An initial randomized pilot study with no control group showed that brain-balance centers had an extremely positive effect. Sixty children with ADHD went through the program. After three months, 82 percent no longer had ADHD. A control study, which is almost completed, shows the same effect. “Children that come in and get assessed but don’t go through the program come back three months later with no change, or they get worse. And with our children that go through the program, they show huge change. And that’s going to be published in a very good medical journal before the year’s out.”
Along the autism spectrum, there are varying degrees of functional disconnection. It’s important to note that brain-balance centers work with higher-functioning children who do not have genetic mutations but have functional imbalance and, as Dr. Melillo believes, the potential to fully recover. “No damage in their brain, no known genetic mutation that we can find, nothing physically wrong with them. Why can’t they get better? We’re raising the bar and showing people what can be done. If you stimulate an area of the brain, it can get better, and if you do it long enough, that will create a balance that will improve communication and improve functional skills. And, if you improve functional skills enough, why can’t you get a child up to where they’re supposed to be?”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]