Interactive Metronome (IM) is a program that is widely used in educational and clinical settings. The program consists of a computer-based technology that requires a person to focus on an auditory stimuli and make a motor response such as clapping to a specific rhythm. The beat is established by a computerized metronome that the individual hears through headphones. It is different than just clapping to a regular metronome because the program provides either visual or auditory feedback about the person’s performance at the millisecond level. Efficient millisecond timing is crucial for engaging the brain to respond automatically.
At STAR center IM is used to help kids learn to follow their own ‘internal timing’ e.g., what to do when the beat starts to feel too fast, what that FEELS like! And then on the other end of the spectrum, what to do when the beat starts to feel too slow, what that FEELS like. Ultimately children begin to COUNTERACT their own timing tendencies and respond more normally.
IM is not used in isolation at STAR Center, but rather as a tool to blend with many other foundational and engaging techniques and activities. The program can be modified to engage children, adolescents and adults at almost all levels. Some research indicates that the more actively engaged a child is in the learning process, the more dendritic growth occurs in the brain (which strengthens development of new neuronal pathways). The repetition, accuracy required, and duration of IM, when provided as an adjunct to treatment, seems to help decrease sensory over-responsivity e.g., increasing noise tolerance) and appears to enhance body awareness, posture, motor skills and ultimately affect functional abilities.