If you hate the sound of your own voice, you’re not alone. Many people don’t like listening to themselves talk — mostly because they’re not used to the way their voice sounds to outside ears. When you speak, you hear your voice through two different channels — your ear canals (air conduction) and the vibrations in the bones of your face (bone conduction). When you hear a recording of yourself, it enters only through your ear canals — causing it to sound “off.”
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When you speak, you make tiny corrections in your voice based on what you hear via air and bone conduction. This natural process of listening, processing, and reacting to your voice is known as auditory feedback, and it’s an important part of sensory integration. When this process is disrupted, it can affect attention, motor timing, and self-esteem.
A new product, called Forbrain, claims to harness the power of this instinctive process to help users improve speech, attention, memory, focus, and a host of other sensory functions. How? By talking out loud while wearing the Forbrain headset, for as little as 15 minutes a day.
Forbrain consists of headphones, a high-quality microphone, and a “dynamic filter” that reacts to the intensity of the user’s voice. By filtering the voice with alternating contrasts, the filter emphasizes long vowels and the beginnings of words — sounds that are heavily involved in the construction of language. The brain naturally leans toward these sounds, improving pronunciation and quality of the voice. The headphones sit on your temples, amplifying bone conduction of your voice — leaving your ears free to perceive other external sounds.
The company behind Forbrain, Sound for Life Ltd., claims the technology can be used to improve attention in children and adults. If you (or your child) struggle with attention problems or sensory integration, you can become overwhelmed or overstimulated by external noise, causing you to lose focus when others are speaking. By making the user more aware of — and more in-tune with — their own voice, Forbrain increases your attentiveness to what you’re saying. Then, as your ears become more skilled at picking up external sounds, Forbrain trains your brain to focus more efficiently on what others are saying — boosting attention and listening skills.
The simplicity of Forbrain’s program gives it an advantage over other products that claim to have the same benefits. Instead of relying on a series of incrementally more difficult exercises that the user must master, Forbrain is straightforward. The success of the program is based on the user’s motivation and willingness to use it for 15 minutes daily.
No formal studies on Forbrain’s effectiveness have been conducted — though several are in the works from institutions like the University of Barcelona. Results will be published as soon as they are available.
At $359, Forbrain isn’t exactly cheap, but it does come with a two-year warranty, a user guide, and an educational support guide to help you pinpoint the skills you want to improve.