Dr. Nina Kraus is Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University. She is a scientist, inventor (holder of several patents), and amateur musician who uses hearing as a window into brain health. She began her career measuring responses from single auditory neurons and was one of the first to show that the adult nervous system has the potential for reorganization with learning; these insights in basic biology galvanized her to investigate sound processing in the brain in humans. Through a series of innovative studies involving thousands of research participants from birth to age 90, her research has found that our lives in sound, and our experiences, for better (musicians, bilinguals) and for worse (concussion, language disorders, noise), shape how our brain makes sense of the sounds we hear. Using the principles of neuroscience to improve human communication, she advocates for best practices in education, health, and social policy.
The Question of the Week is, "How does music affect the human brain?" Dr. Kraus and I discuss her journey and how she came to be researching sound and the brain, the role sound plays in our everyday lives, why making music is the healthiest thing you can do for your brain, the similarities between meditation and making music, and why silence is just as important as sound.
If you would like to learn more about Dr. Kraus and her research, please visit www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu