Author Archives: Jeff Strong

Using REI to Reduce Aggressive Behavior and Anxiety in an Adult with Autism

In this newsletter, I share a case example of one client in the autism spectrum, a 35 year-old male with autism whose main issues were aggressive behavior and anxiety. This example is part of a larger study on adults with autism conducted at a group home setting. You can read the entire study here.

Subject 4: Carl. – Male, age 35.

According to records, Carl had lived in a group home since he was 14 years old. He was placed there due to his family being unable to care for him and to manage his anxiety and aggressive outbursts. This facility was his fifth group home and, due to his volatile behavior, the director reported that she was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to remain in this facility.

The director described that he was responsible for 3-4 violent outbursts each week that resulted in someone begin injured. These were not so seriously as to put anyone in the hospital but significant enough that these incidents needed to be reported to the state agency responsible for the facility’s license. As of the beginning of the REI Study, the facility was under pressure to reduce his aggression or find him a different home that could better manage his behavior. His aggression often manifested when he was directed to perform an activity that he didn’t want to do such as clean up after a horse.

Due to this non-compliance and behavioral reaction, Carl was not involved in many of the day-to-day activities that many of the other residents enjoyed. The staff reported that he did enjoy riding and brushing the horses, but they didn’t allow him to do these activities often due to his tendency to spontaneously hit the horse with a closed fist.

The staff reported that, aside from these aggressive behaviors, Carl’s anxiety also manifested in the form of self-stimulatory vocalizations and sleeplessness. The vocalizations were often threatening. Although he could speak clearly with excellent grammar and vocabulary, he only talked in this aggressive manner.

When I was first introduced to Carl, he went into great detail how he was going to hurt me – punch me in the face, kick me in the groin, elbow me in the chest, for example – if I crossed him. He related this to me at a high volume without making eye contact. By my observation, he didn’t seem like he really intend to do these things because he had the characteristic monotone, lack of eye contact and overall flat affect that characterizes many with autism. He also lacked the usual intensity that typically precedes such an attack. None-the-less, given his history of unprovoked aggression, I was careful not to get too close or to provoke him in any way. I did, however sit down and pick up my drum, which he regarded curiously, and play, which prompted him to sit next to me and touch the drum’s shell. He held onto it as I played with his ear cocked toward the sound. His gaze was unfocused and at no point did he actually look at me.

I played calming type rhythms (at the characteristic REI 8-beats-per-second pace) for a few minutes while he held the drum and quietly sat next to me. After approximately 4 minutes I began a series of more intense rhythms to see if his behavior would change (this is a common approach used by traditional practitioners to invoke a response in a listener and to gauge their level of engagement in the rhythms). Within less than 30 seconds, Carl grabbed the hardware lugs that tension the drum and tried to pull the drum from my lap. Because I have become accustomed to anticipate a reaction of this sort (I’d lost hold of the drum many times before), I pulled back and just barely managed to hang on.

After a short struggle he let go of the drum and leaned back from it, though he stayed in his chair. I began playing it again using the rhythms I started with. He settled down in his chair while I continued playing for another 10 minutes or so. I was careful to not play rhythms that tend to provoke and he noticeably calmed during this time. When I stopped playing, he continued sitting quietly until I left the room.

The staff later reported that Carl remained calm for the rest of the afternoon, until dinnertime when he got into a scuffle with another resident (Subject 3: Billy) over food. Separating Carl and Billy during dinner diffused this incident. The staff noted that an altercation at dinnertime wasn’t unusual and that Carl was obsessive about food, taking as much as he could and eating fast and messily.

One of the other issues that the director related to me with Carl was that he had difficulty sleeping – both with falling asleep and with waking at night. She reported that if not supervised, he would sometimes attempt to leave the facility at night. He liked to wander around outside. On several occasions he was observed walking off the facility grounds and wandering onto neighboring properties. In one case he entered a neighbor’s house. Fortunately, the neighbors knew and recognized him and called the facility director to retrieve him. In order to avert an incident of this sort again, there was a staff member positioned within eyesight of his door throughout the night.

Results after listening to the REI recording

After four weeks of Carl listening to his REI recording once day, met I him in the corral where he was quietly brushing a horse. He had no reaction to me when I approached him – a much different experience for me than the first time I met him, He was clearly calm and focused on rhythmically brushing the horse.

I said hello to him and asked if he remembered me. He responded that I was “that guy with the funny drum” (the drum I use is very usual and shaped unlike any other drum, so this observation intrigued me. Of course it could mean that any drum was funny to him, or my playing was funny, or that he was observant enough to see the drum was different – this would mean he had some previous knowledge of drums and their common shapes. I didn’t explore this with him). I asked if he liked the drumming, to which he simply said, “yeah”. I asked if I could play for him again. His response was, again, simply, “yeah.”

I found a log to sit on about 20 feet away outside of the corral to play and began beating a calming rhythm for him. I noted no discernable response as he continued to brush the horse. After a while I began playing a regular rhythm that employed a steady accented pulse (this rhythm was a traditional Brazilian Samba rhythm with 16th notes playing two quiet notes and two accented notes, with the second accented note louder than the first every-other time through this pattern, making the loud accent occur once every second. This rhythm created a pulsing, forward-moving feel. This rhythm is different from a traditional Samba, however, because every other time through the pattern I cut the rhythm short by two notes, changing the time signature into 7/8, giving the entire rhythm pattern a 15/8 time signature). After a few minutes I noticed that he was brushing the horse to the rhythm, with his stroke following the louder of the accented notes.

I changed rhythms to something more typical of an REI rhythm (more complex and variable) and noticed that his brushing strokes slowly reduce in speed. I stopped playing at approximately 15 minutes, packed up my drum and left. He was still brushing the horse and made no notice of my departure. The staff reported that this was the longest amount of time he’d brushed a horse. They reported that he seemed content to do this. He offered some minor resistance when asked to stop this activity, though didn’t put up a struggle or react aggressively.

The director reported to me with some enthusiasm that they had noted no aggressive incidents from Carl since the first week of his listening to the REI recording. She related that he was much calmer and compliant overall. The staff described that he was more engaged in activities, especially those involving the horses. He hadn’t hit one since beginning listening to the REI recording. He also was more responsive to direction and would stop his vocal stimming when asked. He was still repeating phrases but they were less aggressive in nature.

The staff reported that mealtime was much calmer and noted that his eating had slowed down and he hadn’t gotten into any struggles with other residents over food.

As I instructed, the staff played the recording at bedtime. They noted that he often asked for the recording before going to bed. The tracking notes indicated that he fell asleep much quicker by the second night and was usually asleep by the time the REI recording ended (approximately 20 minutes). The staff noted that he had been sleeping well and hadn’t been observed getting up since then and hadn’t wandered at night. His tendency to wander was still apparent, though, as he did this during the day but he stayed within boundaries of the facility.

The staff also noted that Carl was beginning to engage in conversational speech when prompted. Contrary to what I experienced in my interaction with him at the corral, the staff reported that he was often able to respond with 2-3 sentences to the staff’s questions and directions. He rarely initiated conversations.

After twelve weeks, the facility still reported no incidents of aggression and noted that he was much less aggressive than he was before beginning the study. They described that he was still sleeping well and continuing to show improvements in compliance and listening ability. The director related that mealtimes had become a relaxed time since starting REI and they found that playing a calming REI recording (a precursor to REI Calming Rhythms) reduced anxieties during what used to be a stressful time at bay.

The staff also reported at this twelve-week check-in that Carl’s self-stimulatory vocalizations had decreased significantly. On the occasion that he did engage in these vocalizations, they were no longer aggressive and he would stop when asked. The staff reported that he began initiating conversation with others. This was evidenced by him approaching me and saying, “You’re the drummer guy. Where is your drum?” to me when I arrived for this visit. I answered that I didn’t bring my drum this time and would he like it if I brought it next time. He said, simply “Yeah”.

After 6 months the facility director reported that Carl continued to listen to his REI recording every day and requested it when the staff forgot to turn it on.  He still hadn’t exhibited any aggressive behavior since the first week of beginning REI. Tracking notes indicated that he was still sleeping well and hadn’t gotten up in the night. The staff reported that he was much more pleasant to be around and continued to enjoy his horse-relate activities without incident.

C.ick here for more information on the REI Custom Program

Boost Your Cognition With These Complex Drumming Rhythms

In this video, I play complex, unpredictable rhythms on my Gonga drum to increase gamma wave activity for cognition, memory, and problem solving.

For more about using drumming rhythms to boost gamma waves, check out this video: https://youtu.be/B6hu6oXaau8

Try Brain Shift Radio for free at: brainshiftradio.com

Learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs at: reicustomprogram.com

EEG Brainwave Activity While Listening to REI Drumming Compared to Brain Shift Radio’s Ambient Mix

In this video, I show you EEG brainwave activity of an adult male with ADD as he listens to REI drumming rhythms and Brain Shift Radio music. I also describe how Brain Shift Radio’s ambient track influences the effects of the drumming rhythms.

Try Brain Shift Radio for free at: brainshiftradio.com

Learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs at: reicustomprogram.com

Watch EEG Brainwave Activity of an Adult with ADD Listening to REI Drumming

In this video, I share real-time EEG brainwave activity of an REI client: an adult male with ADD. I show you how his brain entrains to an alpha state of consciousness and then becomes focused. I also show how his brain is exercised by REI drumming rhythms as part of the progressive stimulation aspect of the REI Custom Program.

Try Brain Shift Radio for free at: brainshiftradio.com

Learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs at: reicustomprogram.com

Are You a Sensitive Person? Try this to calm your emotions and nervous system

In this video, I calm your emotions and sensory system with mildly variable rhythms played at the low end of the alpha state of consciousness. Whether you are a highly sensitive person, have sensory processing sensitivity, or are an empath, this will help you feel more resourceful and less overwhelmed.

Try Brain Shift Radio for free at: brainshiftradio.com

Learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs at: reicustomprogram.com

Resources for My PASIC Talk

17/16 Trance Rhythm

Here is a transcript of the 17/16 rhythm I played during my presentation.

17-16-rhythm-pasic18

PDF: Drumming Tempos and Theta States

https://www.stronginstitute.com/assets/components/media/Theta-tempos-2.pdf

Video: How to Boost Your Brain with Fast, Complex Drumming Rhythms

Activating the brain for memory and cognitive enhancement can be done two ways:

1. Play pleasingly variable patterns with an unpredictable, yet musical quality at 8 beats per second. This has an immediate activating effect and, coupled with progressively more complex patterns over a series of recordings, can provide long-term cognitive enhancements. This is the approach we use for the REI Custom Programs.

2. Play various tempos all within the alpha range of 8-12 beats per second (bps). Musically, 8-12 bps is 120-180 beats per minute when playing 16th notes and one beat of the metronome is a 1/4 note. This means that you are playing 4 drumming beats for each click of the metronome. This approach is the key to the Brain Boost category on brainshiftradio.com.

I end this video with a cognitive enhancement drumming session. Let it play quietly in the background and see how mentally clear you feel afterward.

Check out a free 14-day trial on https://www.brainshiftradio.com to explore more music to boost your brain.

Learn to play the drums for healing at http://www.drumhealing.com

Video: All About Drumming Tempos as They Relate to Brainwave States

In this video, I talk about the relationship between drumming tempos and brainwave states. I share a simple formula to help you choose the exact brain state to achieve your goals.

Download the PDF on brainwave states and drumming tempos here

Learn more about the Soundbrenner Pulse metronome I use in this video

Learn more about drum healing at: http://www.drumhealing.com

Try my music for free at: https://brainshiftradio.com

Video: How I Use Musical Phrasing to Reduce Anxiety

How do I stop tantrums, anxiety attacks and escalating aggression with a 16 bar phrase?Novelty, that’s how. Rhythm can do more than just calm the average person.

Learn more about drum healing at: http://www.drumhealing.com

Video: Introducing a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) for Brain Shift Radio

In this video, I use an EEG brain computer interface to show how the music on Brain Shift Radio changes your brain. I also describe how we are building a new music player and algorithms to let your brain drive the music for better results with Brain Shift Radio and the REI Custom Programs.

Try Brain Shift Radio for free at: brainshiftradio.com

Learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs at: reicustomprogram.com

Video: How I Use REI Drumming for Sensory Processing

In this video, I shows how I approach the three types of sensory processing issues – hyper-sensitivity, hypo-sensitivity, and sensory discrimination.

I play examples of various drumming rhythms to influence these sensory responses and describe how hyper and hypo sensitivity fits into an REI Custom Program.

Learn more about the REI Custom Sensory Processing Program here: https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/sensory-processing-program/

Video: How I Construct a REI Rhythm From a Traditional Ceremonial Rhythm

In this video, I show you how to play a traditional ceremonial rhythm used to lift mood and create a sense of empowerment. Then I morph it into an REI rhythm to help with mood issues.

to learn more about how to use drumming for healing go to drumhealing.com or drumhealinglive.com

To try more of my music for free go to brainshiftradio.com

To learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs go to reicustomprogram.com

Video: Dissecting an REI Rhythm in an Old Video

Note: This is one of my first videos. As you can see, I’m not really comfortable on video, yet. But the content is good.


In my book, Different Drummer: One Man’s Music and Its Impact on ADD, Anxiety and Autism, I mention many of the rhythms I use as the basis of REI. This video explores the development of one rhythm to give you an idea of the intricacy of the patterns I use as well as the process I go through to determine the best rhythm to use in a given situation. This rhythm is in the time signature of 21/16 and is one that I find helpful in reducing a hand-flapping motion often seen in people on the autism spectrum.

Video: Mindfulness Meditation for Active Minds and ADD Brains

In this video, I play randomly variable rhythms in 5 at four-beats-per-second to entrain active minds and ADD brains to a deep meditative state.

Learn to play the for healing in a free video workshop series: http://www.drumhealing.com

REI for Calm: 3 clinical studies show reductions in anxiety and anxiety-based behaviors

Since our first clinical study in 1994, we have focused on how to reduce anxiety and induce calm.

https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/calm-studies/

Quantitative Data Shows that Listening to Complex Drumming can Increase Attention.

Two independent studies show that REI drumming can increase focused attention. One study compared BSR music to the AD/HD stimulant medication, Ritalin, using a Continuous Performance Test (the T.O.V.A.) for an adult with Attention Deficit Disorder while the other study used a blinded placebo-controlled format for elementary-age children in a classroom setting.

https://www.stronginstitute.com/blog/cpt-test/

Bibliography of related music and rhythm research

Here is a list of rhythm research

Jeff Strong Introduces You to a Brain Computer Interface (BCI) for Brain Shift Radio

In this video, I use an EEG brain computer interface to show how the music on Brain Shift Radio changes your brain. I also describe how we are building a new music player and algorithms to let your brain drive the music for better results with Brain Shift Radio and the REI Custom Programs.

Try Brain Shift Radio for free at: brainshiftradio.com

Learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs at: reicustomprogram.com

Open Your Mind with This 5 Beats-per-second Frame Drum Meditation with Jeff Strong

Sit back, close your eyes, and let your mind open to possibility and inspiration.

In this video, I play a frame drum at 5-5.5 beats-per-second – the low end of the theta state of consciousness – to help you open your mind to inspiration. I have added one of my favorite Brain Shift Radio ambient tracks on top of my rhythms. Got to love those Adriatic Mara Birds!

To learn more about how to use drumming for healing go to drumhealing.com

Join me for my next Drum Healing Live workshop go to drumhealinglive.com

To try more of my music for free go to brainshiftradio.com

To learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs go to reicustomprogram.com

Lift Your Mood With This 6 1/2 Beat-per-second Gonga Drum Meditation

In this video, I play my Gonga drum 6.5 beats-per-second to lift your mood. I Improvise around triple-based rhythms used for centuries to alleviate depression. Enjoy!

To learn more about how to use drumming for healing go to drumhealing.com

Join me for my next Drum Healing Live workshop go to drumhealinglive.com

To try more of my music for free go to brainshiftradio.com

To learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs go to reicustomprogram.com

Jeff Strong Plays a Gonga Drum Meditation at the Schumann Resonance (7.83 Hz)

In this video, I play my trusty Gonga drum at the Schumann Resonance tempo (7.83 Hz) to give you a sense of connection and groundedness, Metronomically, 7.83 Hz is 16th notes played at a tempo where 1/4 notes equal 117.45 beats-per-minute. Enjoy!

To learn more about how to use drumming for healing go to drumhealing.com

Join me for my next Drum Healing Live workshop go to drumhealinglive.com

To try more of my music for free go to brainshiftradio.com

To learn more about my auditory brain stimulation programs go to reicustomprogram.com