Recently a woman from a company that has created a device called Forbrain, contacted me and asked if I would try it out and see whether it helped me with my ADHD. Of course I said, “Sure.”
A few days later a package arrived and I opened it up, glanced at the instructions, tried to figure out how to use it, got distracted, and added it to my list of Tasks To-Do. But didn’t take long before I opened the case, read the instructions, or at least skimmed the warranty and boring stuff, and got it working.
Forbrain is a headset with a microphone, like someone in a call-centre would wear, only there aren’t any ear-buds. Instead, the microphone sends the signal of your voice through a special filter, and into two transducers that rest on the cheek bones, just in front of your ears.
And then you speak, sing, or read aloud.
I decided to see if I can memorize Robert Service’s classic poem, The Cremation of Sam Magee: There are strange things done, Neath the midnight sun, By the men who moil for gold…
I found it to be an unusual sensation. The transducers transmit the sound and vibration and apparently it’s going through to my skull as well as my eardrum.
So I could hear myself, somewhat, but not exactly, like when I’m wearing headphones. Instantly I became more aware of my own voice in a different way.
The vibration of the two transducers was just a mild hum but it was unlike anything I’d felt before. As if someone were talking to you from across the room and then suddenly they were a foot-away, speaking in a commanding voice.
It shows up most when I’m reciting The Cremation of Sam Magee. My delivery becomes much more playful, more dramatic, or melodramatic.
I needed to test this out. Will it make a difference in focus, memory, confidence and enunciation?
Brain Training to Enhance Speech, Memory and Attention
Since I have the singing voice and musicality of a shovel, I tried singing along to some Beatles songs. (The upbeat early stuff.)
It felt very different from simply being in an audio studio in front of a microphone with headphones on recording words or singing. I should mention that despite my somewhat tuneless vocal skills, I did some singing on some of the Frantics radio shows and our comedy albums. (Comedy is somewhat forgiving of flat notes.)
I have long since come to the conclusion that one reason my singing was so appalling, despite my habit of singing to the radio on long drives, was that I wasn’t really hearing myself. I wasn’t listening and adjusting my pitch to the music. An audio processing issue?
Now back in the day, when I was in studio singing along to audio tracks I did much better than when I was driving in the car. Having the record producer prompting me, and allowing me to record 12 takes, and pausing to hear my voice, certainly helped. And these were the days before pitch shifting technology made everyone’s voice on key.
The result of my Beatles Marathon? I was able to appreciate how off key I was, and I was able to adjust. I don’t expect Paul and Ringo to ask me to join them on tour, but I was noticeably better, more confident, less quavering.
Even just reading or talking, I was more aware of my voice and my less than crisp enunciation. “Peder Piyer pigged a pack uh piggled peppus.”
A Non-medical Treatment for ADHD?
I’ve been using it for a few weeks now. Is it helping with my adult ADHD? Difficult to say, for several reasons.
- Some days I take medication, often I don’t need it.
- Every day is different for me, so I’m rarely doing the same thing day after day, making it harder to compare. If I were making parts for cars, or knitting scarves I would be able measure my productivity by the number of taillight housings or yards of scarf I’d created.
- One of the common symptoms of ADHD that I have, like many of us, is ‘poor self-assessment.’ I used to believe I was pretty self-aware, which shows you how self-unaware I am.
- As an actor I’ve had some vocal training and just doing this brought back some of the lessons and practices I’d forgotten.
I am More Focused, More Present
I have found that I am more conscious of my voice, what I’m saying, and how I am saying it.
Many folks with ADHD tune out other people’s voices. The experience of wearing the Forbrain headset made it easy to actually listen to myself. Now I find I’m more aware of what I’m saying, how I’m projecting, and I’m able to add more range to my voice. Not always, but in a way I haven’t been since I was rehearsing live shows.
Now, as I say, I’m only one person. And personal testimonials are helpful, but we want scientific proof. So if you want to learn more, the Forbrain website has links to numerous studies that show the value of this gadget for a number of different challenges. And the ones they’ve linked to seem to match my own experience.
The fact that the Forbrain headset is being used by children and adults for a number of challenges and proving to be helpful, is enough to have me stick with it.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I have the unpleasant obligation of, “cremating Sam McGee on the marge of Lake Labarge.”
PS – Forbrain is offering 10% off when you use this code to purchase 3A7404074
(3A7404074 is not the easiest discount code! We recommend that you copy and paste it.)
A portion of your purchase will come back to TotallyADD, so we thank you for your purchase, and your support!