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Strong Institute


The following information is in reference to Chapter 17, page 224 of The Power Of Sound.

There are four things that distinguish REI from other auditory programs:

• daily listening for long-term change

• specific rhythms for specific symptoms

• custom-made and revisable CDs

• open-air environments (no headphones)

Strong says, “By having the stimulus in the background, while the rest of the sensory input of life goes on, forces the brain’s reticular activating system to work hard to decipher the pattern in the stimulus while also ensuring that the listener doesn’t become over-stimulated by the rhythms.”

After 27 years of research, REI Custom Programs™ are offered through trained providers. However, Jeff Strong is still personally involved in the creation of each one. His research started from his desire to understand why traditional rhythm practices were so prevalent around the world. He is still passionate about learning how auditory rhythmic stimulation can impact individuals with neurological issues.

Advanced Sound Tools/REI

“As I developed REI, my first step was to identify the core mechanisms of the traditional rhythmic techniques,” Jeff explains. “It turns out that these mechanisms are simple, powerful, and easily understood. First, human consciousness can be directly affected by an auditory stimulus.” Jeff labels this concept as auditory driving, wherein a listener’s brainwave activity will synchronize with the pulsation of an auditory rhythm (provided certain conditions are met). 
”Traditional practitioners would employ a four-beat-per-second rhythm, which would in turn facilitate a corresponding four-beat-per-second pulsation in the listener’s brain, resulting in bilateral neurological synchronization and a shift in consciousness to a theta, meditative state. With REI, we double the tempo to synchronize a listener’s brain into a relaxed neurological state called alpha. This is the state of consciousness where sensory processing is optimized.”

In addition to alpha brainwave entrainment, Jeff Strong discovered that another core mechanism involved in traditional therapeutic rhythm techniques consisted of using complex rhythms to activate the brain. He asserts that complex auditory rhythm stimulates the reticular activating system, a part of the brain that controls sensory input. Applying complex rhythm to activate the brain is one level of the stimulation, however multiple research studies provided Strong and team the awareness that perhaps more important than complexity, each rhythm produces a different response. Understanding that traditional rhythmic practitioners (i.e., shamans) performed rhythms live for each person and adjusted their rhythms based upon the responses they saw in their patient, Strong set his attention on how to provide rhythmic stimulation using CDs.

He tells this story… “One of the first children that I worked with was a seven-year-old girl on the autism spectrum. In this case, the girl was referred to me because of extreme anxiety. This anxiety impacted every aspect of her life: She wasn’t able to sleep in her own room and needed to be in constant contact with her mother; transitions and even minor changes in her environment were a point of crisis for her throughout the day. 
She also had significant language and social delays. Her language consisted largely of repeating rote words and phrases. Although she had a large vocabulary, she was unable to communicate beyond her basic needs and desires. Socially, she lacked eye contact and wasn’t able to interact appropriately with her peers. She calmed down within minutes during the first live session, and after the second session she remained calm and was able to sleep in her own room from that night on. She listened to a recording of her third live session everyday for eight weeks. At seven weeks she spontaneously described events in proper sequence for the first time. She was also developing social connections and had begun making friends. She was mainstreamed at school (she was in a classroom with non-autistic children and had a one-on-one aide) and at 10 weeks the school psychologist evaluated Stephanie in her classroom and noted that she was ‘indistinguishable from the normal’ children in the class.’ She continued listening to her recording for several more months and eventually no longer required her one-on-one aide.”

REI Research

During the 1990s, the REI Institute conducted a series of double blind, placebo-controlled studies to try to understand the best approaches to take in balancing auditory stimulation and synchronization. They learned that custom-made revisable CDs are more effective than CDs created for a broad user base, ensuring that the correct level of stimulation is used for that person. Success has been found in treating anxiety, sleep, self-stimulatory behaviors, language skills, sensory sensitivities and defensiveness, socialization, attention and focus, and aggressive or oppositional behaviors.

The first study, entitled “Rhythmic Entrainment Intervention as Applied to Childhood Autism: A Pilot Study” was conducted in a public school setting in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota, in the spring of 1994. Sixteen elementary-age children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder participated in the study. The results were encouraging and resulted in the presentation of professional papers at several health-care conferences throughout North America. This study and the professional community’s enthusiastic response led to numerous research opportunities exploring the effect of REI rhythms on neurological disorders (including autism, attention deficit disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, chronic pain, learning disabilities, and central auditory processing disorder). Research venues include University of Kansas Medical Center, Oregon Health Sciences University, and the Center for the Study of Autism.

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