Interactive Metronome® (IM) is an evidence-based assessment and training tool that measures & improves Neurotiming, or the synchronization of neural impulses within key brain networks for cognitive, communicative, sensory & motor performance. As the individual activates a trigger in time with a steady auditory beat, IM technology provides real-time auditory and visual feedback for millisecond timing. Knowing whether he is hitting before, after, or exactly in sync with the beat to the millisecond allows the individual to make immediate, online corrections to improve timing & rhythm over the course of training.
Peer reviewed studies repeatedly confirm the importance of timing & rhythm for human performance. According to IM research, improving Neurotiming may result in better function in the following areas:
The Interactive Metronome® Program is a concise, rigorous training program of temporal timing in the brain related to motor functions, though effecting academic changes.
Concerns about timing and human performance go back for centuries. Many scientists believe that a human being’s capacity for timing and rhythmiticity plays an important role in a variety of behaviors including motor planning, sequencing, and cognitive functions, such as attention and academic achievement. There has been evidence that timing and rhythmiticity is an important central nervous system function that relates to a variety of cognitive and motor skills.
The core process is compromised in a variety of challenges involving attention, language, motor planning, motor coordination, social interactions, and learning disabilities, including nonverbal learning disabilities, as well as during the ageing process. In just about all advanced thinking and problem solving, the ability to plan and sequence thoughts with behaviors occurs at a basic, foundational level.
Today, there are interventions that exercise and improve the middle to higher levels of cognitive and social skills, but there have not been any that directly address and improve basic, foundational level of timing and rhythmicity.
The Interactive Metronome (IM) was first developed in 1992 by a man named James Cassily. His formal education is in child psychology. He has spent over twenty years in record production, engineering and recording studio equipment design, and manufacturing. His personal interest in audiology helped him pioneer physcho-acoustic audio signal processing in the recording, sound reinforcement, and broadcast fields.
The Interactive Metronome was originally developed to help professional musicians numerically test and improve timing and rhythmiticity. However, it turned out that Mr. Cassily’s first prototype of the IM was not with musicians. He was urged by a personal friend (physician who suffered a traumatic brain injury which destroyed much of the motor control area of his brain) to use it on children with severe motor skill development problems. It was quickly discovered that training with this new tool also had unexpectedly broad positive effect on individuals with learning, attention, and motor challenges, as well as those with musical and athletic gifts.
It is of note that Dr. Stanley Greenspan (founder of the DIR Model – Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship Model and the Floortime Approach) was instrumental in helping Mr. Cassily understand the role of emotions play, and how to refine the IM’s intervention capabilities, especially with autistic children. Dr. Greenspan became the Director of Interactive Metronome Research in 1997. It was his insights into emotional aspects of child development that confirmed Mr. Cassily’s Theory of Sequentially Timed Learning.
After nearly a decade of research, the patented IM program was introduced for the first time in 1999 to qualified health professionals. In 2001, the “IM-Powered” training program was launched for mainstream applications including academic and sports performance.
How does IM work?
The IM program ‘trains the brain’ to plan, sequence and process information more effectively through repetition of interactive exercises. During the IM training a trainee wears stereo headphones and listens to special sounds that the IM computer software program generates to guide the training process. Motion sensing triggers, connected to the computer via cables, relay information about the trainees performance to the computer during training. One trigger is worn like glove on either hand. It senses exactly when the hand makes contact when tapped during training. The other trigger is placed on the floor, and senses exactly when the trainee taps either a toe or heel upon it.
Thirteen different hand and foot exercises are performed while auditory guide tones direct the individual to match the metronome beat. The IM program analyzes the accuracy of each tap as it happens and instantaneously creates a sound that the trainee hears in the headphones. They learn to focus all their attention on the steady metronome beat sound in their headphones, without being interrupted by thoughts around them. IM trainees experience maintaining precise focus for longer and longer periods of time. The ability to maintain focus becomes automated. The mental control learned through repetitively successful planning and sequencing experiences is rarely forgotten. Upon completion of IM training (following approximately a total of 35, 000 repetitions) most trainees find it significantly easier to learn new complex cognitive and physical tasks.
The difference between the individual’s response and the computer generated beat is measured in milliseconds (ms.) and a score is provided. A low ms. score indicates improved timing and overall performance. The program consists of 12 or 15 one-hour sessions, which can be completed in 3 to 5 weeks. Additional sessions may be necessary and is decided on an individual basis.
IM’s adaptive design can be used with a broad spectrum population ‘developmentally’ 6 years of age and older. This may include but not limited to:
As with any intervention, the varying degrees of severity will indicate appropriateness.
The IM program has been shown to produce significant results in children and adults with a wide range of physical and cognitive difficulties including ADHD. The March/April 2001 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy identified five core areas of statistically significant improvements gained through the IM training program:
The goal of IM training is to bring lasting improvements in an individual’s overall planning and sequencing and attentional capacities. The IM millisecond scores are the benchmarks of the level of mastery achieved, not how many sessions or repetitions have been completed. Every individual is different, and each has a unique set of pre-existing capabilities and timing related “habits”. Therefore, no single IM training program or schedule can meet the specific needs of all individuals.
Ongoing studies continue to validate correlations between Interactive Metronome and academic achievement in mathematics, language, reading, and attention to task. The IM program has also proven to be a powerful tool for improving both the physical and mental aspects of athletic performance.
“Attention, learning and problem solving depend in part on the ability to p/an and sequence actions and ideas. The Interactive Metronome helps individuals systematically exercise and often improve basic motor planning and sequencing capacities”
Stanley Greenspan MD, a noted child psychiatrist and ex-head of the NIMH is Chairman of IM’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“The Interactive Metronome is spectacularly helpful. It is one of the most promising developments with non-medication of ADHD that’s come along in a long while…. This is really solid, extremely helpful non-medication (intervention) not only for ADHD but for mental functioning in general.”
Edward Hallowell MD, author of Driven to Distraction, and leading clinician and speaker on ADHD
The Interactive Metronome “has shown great promise in kids with Attention Deficit Disorder.”
Emily Senay MD, Medical Editor, CBS Early Show, April 20, 2001
“As for the clinical usefulness of the IM, as my intuition originally suggested, I have found the IM to be an extremely helpful intervention for motor planning and sequencing problems. It is helpful in the motor and sequencing aspects of language as well as attention and motor coordination.”
LorRainne Jones, MA, CCC, SLP, Ph.D., heads Kid Pro Therapy, a speech, occupational and physical therapy center in Tampa, FL and author of the book For Parents and Professionals: Expressive Language Delay.
“In our clinical experience, IM training appears to address spatial problems at the neural level-preparing the brain to be receptive to learn – and because of the repetitions it becomes automatic.”
Barbara Fisher, Ph.D., a Neuropsychologist and head of Cognitive Precision Therapy
“As occupational therapists, we have found the Interactive Metronome to be very valuable tool for improving rhythmiticity, timing and sequencing in children and adults with sensory integration problems. Upon completing the IM program, our clients have noticed significant improvements in their coordination, focus, and ability to process information”
Jane Koomar, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA Executive Director, Occupational Therapy Associates in Watertown, MA
The above information was obtained from the Interactive Metronome Website at www.interactivemetronome.com
Technology now enables us to bring the IM program home to you. Work with one of our experienced licensees in setting up the home program that is individualized for your loved one’s needs.
View our infographic to discover how IM works on the body and mind simultaneously in a motivating and engaging way in order to improve the critical timing skills that underlie all of our human capabilities (i.e., speech, language, attention, memory/learning, reading, motor skills, self-control, etc).