Homeschool Posts

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Improve Concentration and Diction, a review of Forbrain

Forbrain by Sound for Life LTD is a device designed to help improve attention, speech, and memory in just 15 minutes a day over a period of 6 weeks. I recently had the opportunity to try out this product for review purposes.

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What is Forbrain?

This lightweight, innovative headset fits over your ears and has a flexible mic that adjusts to fit near your mouth. When you turn it on and speak, your voice sounds amplified. Forbrain uses:

  • bone conduction (essentially the sound of your voice vibrating through your skull)
  • a dynamic filter, which enhances certain frequencies of the human voice
  • and an auditory feedback loop, which corrects the way you normally hear your voice

The idea is that you wear the headset for a brief time each day while reading aloud, reciting poetry, singing, giving a speech, etc. Hearing your voice through Forbrain is truly a unique experience.

Forbrain is supposed to help with pronunciation and speech issues, reading difficulties, attention and concentration issues, working memory problems, vocal quality, and more.

How does it do that?

Essentially by creating a more optimal environment for the speaker to listen to himself speak.

If you’ve ever taken family videos or heard yourself recorded on a voicemail, you probably said to yourself, “Gosh, I didn’t know that’s what I sound like.”

There are a few different things going on there. For one, we sound different to ourselves than we do to others due to the fact that we are not only hearing ourselves through our ears, but also through our skulls via bone conduction.

Bone conduction is a wonderful thing. When my youngest son was born with a rare medical condition that caused his ear canals to be blocked (not permanently), he was essentially “deaf.” He failed the hearing test that they give to newborns. But we had reason to believe that he wasn’t actually deaf (over time this proved to be true). His specialists told me to speak to him with my mouth against his forehead so that he would be able to hear me through bone conduction and it worked. He responded to my voice.

Bone conduction is wonderful God-given gift that allows us to feel the vibrations of sound in our bodies and “hear” even when we can’t hear. This is why if you cover your ears and talk, you can still hear yourself quite well.

We are also not as attentive to what we ourselves are saying or how we say it as we are to what others are saying. Think about that a minute---I know what I’m going to say, so I don’t really need to listen to myself. Unfortunately, that also means that I may not be aware of sloppy pronunciation or I may forget what I said. Ever read a whole chapter of a read aloud to your kids and wondered at the end of it what happened, because you weren’t fully paying attention? Yeah, me too.

Forbrain is designed to help you better concentrate on your voice and what you are saying. It can improve concentration, diction, memory, etc., simply by allowing you to better direct your attention to what you are saying and how you are saying it.

Once upon a time, I was a radio disc jockey (for real). I noticed that when I wore the headphones while broadcasting that I paid closer attention to what I was saying and I was better at modulating my voice. The headphones were huge and blocked out outside sounds, so I couldn’t really hear anything but myself while the mic was on. Over time, my voice quality and delivery improved. Forbrain is a much less bulky (and probably more effective) way to do this and it’s easy to take it anywhere.

For more information on the auditory process, Forbrain’s auditory technology, and a scientific evaluation of how this device works, please visit the website.

Forbrain is not suitable for everyone, including those with epilepsy or Parkinsons, 80% or more hearing loss, or a cochlear implant. The device is designed for ages 3 and up.

Ease of Use

The headset itself is comfortable to wear, but it can become uncomfortable over time by virtue of how it works (more on that in a bit), so it is recommended that most users wear it 10-30 minutes a day, depending upon age (10-15 minutes for young children). This is not something you will wear all the time. One device can be used by multiple people (one at a time, of course).

The part that fits behind your head is flexible and will accommodate a wide range of head sizes or shapes. The hooks fit over the tops of your ears and then there are these blue vinyl-like pads that rest on the bone right in front of your ears. The mic is super flexible and can be adjusted to almost any position. The mic should be about 1.2 inches from the mouth. If it’s a little too close, you may get feedback, so you’ll want to adjust it.

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We found that the headset slides down in the back towards your neck (it doesn't fit snugly against your head there) which can cause it to pull down on the tops of your ears. This was less of an issue for me than it was for my 8-year-old daughter.

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Forbrain is rechargeable and plugs in with the included USB cord to your computer or a wall adapter (not included) to recharge. There's a little button that you press to turn it on, a light that shows you it is on or recharging, and +/- volume control buttons. The headset, instructions, USB cord, and extra mic covers all come in a padded zipper case.

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You put it on and start talking, reading, reciting, etc. Do this 10-15 minutes per day. My daughter, Emma, is doing a classical memory program through our co-op and has been wearing the headset while saying her memory sentences. I’m the Latin tutor for the program, so I’ve been using the headset myself while practicing the Latin pronunciation and working with her on the memory sentences in an effort to improve my own memory and diction. I have ADHD, so attention is an issue.

Things to be aware of

When wearing the headset and speaking, you may feel like sometimes the sound is cutting out or is alternately on and off. This is normal and is part of the dynamic filter doing its job to bring your attention back. I also experienced what seemed like not quite a clicking, but a bit like a jaw cracking sensation from the bone conduction pads. This happens more when I’m reading aloud, rather than when I’m singing or reciting something, so perhaps it is linked to my pattern of speech (my jaw is not actually cracking).

It can also take some time to get used to hearing your voice amplified. When I first started using the device, I couldn’t tell if I was speaking at the correct volume for my children to hear me…because it sounded so LOUD to me.

Neither my daughter nor I can wear Forbrain for more than about 10 minutes without becoming uncomfortable. Beyond that, it gives me a headache. If your child has a similar reaction, you may have difficulty getting her to use it---Emma sometimes does not want to use the device.

What do we think of Forbrain? Does it work?

Full disclosure: it is recommended that you use Forbrain regularly for 6 weeks before expecting to see results. We have not had this headset for that long, so I can’t fully speak to how effective it is.

My personal experiences with it have been interesting, though. While singing Veni, Emmanuel in Latin, I find it easier to focus and remember the next line of a newly learned verse without searching my memory when I’m wearing Forbrain. I also noticed that my pace slows down and I become a little more aware of how am speaking and pronouncing words when I am reading to the children while wearing it. 

I did record video of myself singing with and without Forbrain. There is a difference in my enunciation and my physical attention (my eyes move less with Forbrain on), but the difference is so minute that I don’t feel the video illustrates much. Perhaps after using it a longer time, I will be able to do another video and see if there’s a more noticeable difference. I’ve not yet seen an overall improvement in my memory or attention when not wearing Forbrain.

My daughter seems a little more deliberate about saying her memory sentences with Forbrain on, but I haven’t seen an overall improvement for her, yet.

Forbrain Sound for Life LTD

Overall, I’m not sure if Forbrain really has a lasting effect. I have high hopes, but only time will tell.

To hear what other Crew members had to say about Forbrain:

Forbrain {Sound For Life Ltd Review}
Crew Disclaimer

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