The Science Behind the b-Calm Product Claims
White noise is incorporated in the b-Calm audio tracks, according to Curtis Carroll, a mechanical engineer and former member of the b-Calm team, because research suggests it is beneficial for ADD/ADHD children. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines found that contrary to the conventional wisdom that noise is disruptive to brain functioning, "a certain amount of noise can benefit performance" -- specifically for those with low dopamine levels, including children with ADD/ADHD. In the study, which compared the performance of a control group (non- ADD/ADHD students) to ADD/ADHD students on a series of tasks in the presence or absence of white noise, the noise "exerted a positive effect on cognitive performance for the ADHD group and deteriorated performance for the control group, indicating that ADHD subjects need more noise … for optimal cognitive performance," according to the study's authors.
The second type of sound contained in b-Calm, recordings from nature, has been added for aesthetic reasons and in the hope that ADD/ADHD and autistic children might benefit from it as researchers have found that nature recordings help dementia patients. In his white paper, Noise Control and Positive Acoustic Reinforcement: A Simple Intervention for ADHD and ASD Students, Carroll cites research that suggests dementia patients prone to disruptive vocalizations produced fewer outbursts when listening to either "gentle ocean" or "mountain stream" recordings on a headset. Another study, published in a 2004 issue of Focus: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry, found that white noise and/or nature sounds decreased stress and agitation among elderly dementia patients.
Although he has not used b-Calm or recommended it for his patients, ADDitude advisory board member, prominent psychiatrist, and ADD/ADHD expert Edward Hallowell, M.D., believes that the use of music and sound is an untapped resource and an area he predicts is set to explode onto the ADD/ADHD and autism treatment scenes. Upon hearing the product’s history -- created for an autistic child who couldn’t tolerate dentist visits -- Dr. Hallowell said, “That is how great discoveries are made: by accident.” He cited another sound-based technology, Integrated Listening System, which is purported to exercise neural systems through sound and movement programs, as showing similar promise, and he said about b-Calm, “As professionals, it’s our job to be open to new ideas. If it’s safe and legal, we should give it a try.”
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