Neuroplasticity – The Book That Ate Debi Pearl’s Brain Part 3

Neuroplasticity – The Book That Ate Debi Pearl’s Brain Part 3 August 31, 2019
Found on Facebook. Brains… bring me brains because Debi’s brains have warped my brains

We’re on part three of Debi’s Bad Brains Blues. See Part 1 and Part 2 here.

There is not much going on that could be called ‘Neuroplasticity’ in any of these pieces, just Debi’s usual stew of assumptions, bad ideas and the toxic sludge they call ‘advice.’ I initially thought this piece, on the role of music in developing children’s brains wasn’t so bad, but the farther you wander into the piece the more Pearl-isms pop out. Debi really hates her some rock and roll, doesn’t she?

Debi starts off well, with the oodles of research others have done that proves the value of music in the lives of everyone. It can even raise the IQ by as much as 7 points. That should set her fanbase drooling considering getting your children to play the piano or violin is huge in Quiverfull households.

Then Debi tackles the difficult and much disputed claims of children having perfect pitch. Less established science on this one, and I’ve seen many claims all over the place. Interestingly it seems all so far all of Debi’s claims and verbiage are straight out of a pile of articles by British newspaper The Telegraph.

It looks almost as if Debi just Googled the subjects and picked the first option, which is the articles in The Telegraph. Interesting research methodology and most shallow. So much for her claims of years of research on brains.

The next pile of paragraphs just regurgitates standard music does this to your brain factoids. Then she moves to playing music to babies in the womb, again, long established science that surprises no one. And then we get this:

Pity the infant exposed to rap and most pop music.

Oh, Debi, your prejudice is showing again, my dear. None of the resources or research I saw suggested that one type of music was preferable to another. You know what the biggest factor was? Parents and children enjoying music together.

I am reminded again of that scene in the movie “The Blues Brothers” when Jake and Elwood ask the bartender at Jake’s Country Bunker what type of music they have. The bartender cheerfully answers, “Oh we got both kinds, Country and Western!”

More blathering on the importance yet again of music for many paragraphs before Debi reinforces that one untrue thing – the type of music.

In summary, this means that exposing your newborns and young children to softly playing, quality music will improve their speech as well as their musical ability. Exposure to good music will expand your child’s brain to be able to accommodate new areas of information. Music is a healthy stimulant for many areas of knowledge.

And just like that we’re into Debi’s Opinions land with a bit titled The Curse of Noise. Debi claims undergrads exposed to the loveliness of Mozart suddenly scored 9 points higher on their IQ tests.

She cites another book and another researcher to bash anything that is not Mozart or Vivaldi:

He reported that fetal heart rates steadied and kicking decreased, while other music, especially rock, “drove most fetuses to distraction.”

How could you even measure what a fetus in distraction even looks like? Perhaps babies kicked more vigorously during rock music because of the driving beat. Everything I’m seeing on the research on kids and music seems to indicate that rhythm and patterns are of utmost importance too.

Choice Debi tidbits with no backing:

Some “music” is noise.

Translation: All music not coming from at least a hundred years ago from white European culture. I got news for Miss Debi, when having an MRI while wearing noise cancelling headphones that lovely classical music does nothing to muffle the bangs, the clangs and clicking sounds. Do you know what type of music does? Rock music, classic rock music, bass thumping rap music, and even some pop music. Everything has a purpose, even rock and rap.

Noise is bad, but loud noise is worse. It is extremely debilitating to the brain as well as the ear.

This all followed by great piles of fear-mongering about the damage you do allowing your child, even in utero, when you expose them to dangerous things like rock music and the white noise of fans and motors. Ear buds and headphones get shade for damage too.

Life is noisy. You cannot even hope to cushion your child from the every day noises of traffic, planes, construction, fans and a host of other things. Better to work on demystifying those things. You do no one any favors by so carefully shielding your child from real life that they freak out the first time someone uses a blender around them.

Then we have Debi claiming that music therapy is healing children from such tragic diseases as autism, ADHD and Tourettes. Again with zero citation. Calling things that are different developmentally diseases is helpful to no one.

She goes as far as making up things she calls ‘brain damage’ and then says that learning to sing helped former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, piles of old folks, people with Parkinson’s and other types of neural dysfunction. At least with the singing Debi has links to legitimate studies, but knitter please, this is one confused chapter leaping from place to place mixed with Debi’s racism and hatred of non Classical music.

Tomorrow we are done with Debi’s brain problems from this hideous book, at least right up until I manage to get my sweaty plump little hands on a copy of “Create a Better Brain Through Neuroplasticity”

At least today was closer to the actual subject of changing brains. Debi’s entire chapter can be summed up as ‘Play hymns and classical music only for your children. Everything else is the noisy devil’s music and will make them stupider’

All of this just reminds me of Audio Adrenalin’s  “House Plant Song”


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NLQ Recommended Reading …

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

I Fired God by Jocelyn Zichtermann

13:24 A Dark Thriller by M Dolon Hickmon

About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Friend

    I can make up questions and answers too. What makes Debi think the fetus can separate its own reaction to the music from the mother’s reaction?

    My wild guess: if music makes the mother feel tranquil, happy, energized, calm, joyous—good in any way—that same music will help the fetus.

    The woman should listen the the music she most enjoys.

  • AFo

    I think fundies have a problem with any music that has a backing beat2 because it might encourage people to move their bodies in “sinful2” ways. I didn’t realize they were extending this thinking to a fetus2, but it honestly doesn’t surprise me that Debi thinks this way.

  • Jenn H

    Music, like many things, becomes more respectable as it gets older.

  • WallofSleep

    “Pity the infant exposed to rap and most pop music.”

    But not the ones exposed to plastic whuppin’ sticks, amirite Debbi?

  • persephone

    Darn it. I’ve been listening to Lizzo and Panic! at the Disco this morning. Finished it off with Old Town Road, because I find the song very soothing and the video is funny. So I guess my IQ has dropped around 30 to 40 points? I’m sure I can still beat Debi at thinking.

  • Polytropos

    More magical thinking of a type I’m familiar with from my homeschool days. People like Debi, and my mum, want their kids to be “smart”, whatever that means to them, but actually nurturing a child’s intellectual development takes a lot of work. Plus, if you’re not careful your kids end up learning about evolution and stuff. So they latch onto the idea that if you just play your kids some Mozart it will somehow magically make them smart.

    Of course it must be classical music because these people tend to have a weird mixture of snobbery, and total absence of cultural knowledge. Their understanding of the European classical music they idolize is just a childish idea that “in the oldendays people loved god and made beautiful music to honour him”. Opera is fine, because they can’t understand the lyrics.

  • Polytropos

    They think it encourages s&#8203in, therefore it’s de&#8203monic, therefore it must be a Bad Influence on anyone of any age.

  • Friend

    Hmm… the marvelous “Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick,” by Ian Dury and the Blockheads (ETA nobody should ever strike a child, and this is a harmless song):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWHtz8D3vrw

  • Friend

    If they knew much about Mozart’s personal life, they would find another composer, like Anonymous IV.

  • Polytropos

    Ain’t that the truth!

  • Saraquill

    My dad is a musician. I’ve been dancing since I was 4. I’m still autistic.

  • Saraquill

    I dance to heritage specific music. I’m sure Debi would say my IQ is nothing.

  • Nea

    I was right – she’s just putting a new facade of the latest technobabble over the exact same unchanged “advice.”

  • Saraquill

    “Shakespeare’s works must be G-rated because I don’t understand a thing!”

  • Sassafras

    I wonder what Debi would spew if she knew I listened to Pet Shop Boys today.

  • Polytropos

    See also: any work of ancient Greek or Roman literature, and the Scandinavian sagas. Mum had never read any of this stuff, and assumed it was G rated.

  • “How could you even measure what a fetus in distraction even looks like? Perhaps babies kicked more vigorously during rock music because of the driving beat.”

    I’m now imagining a one-fetus mosh pit…

  • Also, a bunch of heavy metal artists are total nerds. Queen was the result of four geeks getting together — Brian May is a bloody astrophysicist. Iron Maiden does a fair number of songs based on literature and historical events. But we can’t have the kiddos listening to anything inspirational or educational, now, can we?

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    It would blow2 her mind to know that one of Queen’s early songs was named “Jesus”

  • NikkiofAmystika

    Something something anti-gay69 mixed with IQ-drop crap69, probably.

  • Aloha 2

    Or hours of shouted sermons.

  • Martin Penwald

    I’ve seen anti-abortion billboards claiming that fetuses were capable of recognizing their mom’s voice. Still no idea how they could eliminate any bias to conduct whatever experiment to conclude it.

  • Nightshade

    My playlists are a lot of Ghost, Nightwish, Tarot, and Beast in Black, with some Hammerfall, Delain, The 69 Eyes, Powerwolf, Halestorm, and Adam Lambert thrown in, along with whatever else catches my attention at the moment. According to Debi my brain should be damaged to the nonfunctional point by now.

  • Friend

    There’s something to this, although scientific data seem inconclusive to me as a non-scientist. Third-trimester fetuses do seem to respond to maternal voice and touch. (Of course, there are very few term1nations in the third trimester.) Also, newborns very quickly respond more to the mother’s voice than to the father’s. I included “NIH” in searches and found several good articles, including this one:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364233/

  • Karen

    Oh, great. I love Bach but now the joy his music gives me will be tarnished by the knowledge that Debbi Pearl recommends it. Great. (I’m being snarky. I will still love Bach, along with a lot of other stuff.)

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Yeah, I was cringing reading her words because I love classical music too. But I love all other forms too including rap.

  • Friend

    My theory is that the Pearls heard about Switched-On Bach and thought it was about real switches.

  • Sassafras

    They’d be horrified by the Greek play “Bacchae”.

  • Jennifer

    And with so many operas..talk about noise!

  • Polytropos

    That was always my favourite. It’s true what they say, the classics are educational.

  • Nea

    Which is all the funnier because Shakespeare is wall-to-wall sword f1ghts & Richard jokes.

  • lady_black

    Fetuses kick more if you drink ice water, or lie down, too. Call me skeptical that it’s even possible to play music to a fetus in the womb2. They’re floating in water. It’s questionable what they hear at all. Likely not a whole lot as you and I experience hearing. There’s a reason why running a vacuum cleaner is supposed to calm a colicky infant. It likely comes close to what they hear in utero, all the audible sounds our bodies make, as heard through moving water.

  • lady_black

    Oh we LOVE Iron Maiden here.

  • Martin Penwald

    I can see why a fetus will react specifically to the person who hold them. But it’s hard to conclude that the fetus won’t react the same with any person they is in, and pretending that the fetus “recognizes” their mom is far fetched.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I think it’s likely they hear if it’s loud enough. I know, personal anecdotes are no proof, but
    when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my son I was standing near a bandstand at a German festival when the Oompah band suddenly started playing. My bump jumped. He apparently heard a loud enough blast of the instruments to startle. He literally jumped.

  • paganheart

    Speaking of rock musician geeks…Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden is a licensed jet pilot, and Styx guitarist James Young has a degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. Lawrence Gowan, the keyboardist/vocalist who replaced Dennis DeYoung in Styx, has a degree in classical piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

    (Full disclosure: I’ve been on a huge Styx kick lately…)

  • Gosh, who knew being a metal head would be educational?

  • Saraquill

    I sometimes joke about teaching Titus Andronicus to middle schoolers to see if their parents complain, or think wholesome because Shakespeare.

  • Brian Shanahan

    So what, The Moody Blues are right out? Bollix, no wonder I’m only a civil servant.

    Oh wait, it’s the decent pay, good pension and worthwhile work which pushed me that way.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I love the Moody Blues.

  • lady_black

    Yep. That late, they do startle at loud noises. They are also ready to be born.

  • persephone

    I’ve fallen in love with Brendon Urie’s voice and writing, and Lizzo just nails it with her lyrics.

    I did recently pick up the complete Queen and best of the Clash. Takes me back to my youth.

  • Mimc

    The brain and ears are developed enough to hear by the end of the second trimester IIRC but it’s probably like hearing in a pool.

  • Mimc

    FYI there have been studies suggesting that learning to play an instrument doesn’t improve IQ any more than learning other complex skills. So of your kids into some other hobby there’s no real reason to push them into music.

  • lady_black

    Exactly. Who listens to music underwater in a pool?

  • Dana Carpender

    Huh. While I was certainly exposed to rock and pop, I sang plenty of Old White People Music in the local Episcopal church choir, went to every production of the local Gilbert and Sullivan company, sang Vivaldi’s Gloria and The Mikado by age 12 — and damned if I didn’t still have undiagnosed ADD (finally diagnosed when I was 52). Got plenty of exercise, too, since I grew up when kids walked or rode bikes everywhere. How could it be?