Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Podcast- A Polyvagal Theory Informed Therapy

Episode 19 Professor Nina Kraus- A Sound Mind

April 09, 2022
Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP) Podcast- A Polyvagal Theory Informed Therapy
Episode 19 Professor Nina Kraus- A Sound Mind
Show Notes

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr Nina Kraus from Northwestern University about her work investigating sound processing in the brain and her new book "Of Sound Mind."  Nina Kraus is Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University. As a biologist and amateur musician, she thinks about sound and brain health. 

Her research has found that our lives in sound, for better (musicians, bilinguals) and for worse (concussion, hearing loss, language disorders, noise), shape how our brain makes sense of the sounds we hear. Her book OF SOUND MIND - How our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World, was written for the intellectually curious.

Kraus advocates for biologically informed choices in education, health, and society.


We did not touch on all the topics discussed in her book so I encourage you to read Of Sound Mind.  

Episode Thoughts:

Firstly I wish to emphasize the importance of expanding our knowledge to be more aware of the impact of sound on our neuroceptive system and as a consequence our ability to maintain optimal homeostasis for mental and physiological wellbeing. 

 Dr Kraus quotes Helen Keller ….:blindness disconnects us from things, deafness disconnects us from people” As PV informed individuals or therapists we certainly understand the importance of being able to connect. How we process sound- voices greatly impacts this.

Nina’s work has expanded our knowledge of the importance of the more complex neural feedback system from the brain to the ear to fine-tune our listening and create the connection of meaning in sound. Her lab has developed key measures of understanding auditory processing in the brain. Interestingly significant processing occurs in the midbrain where we know there are connections to the amygdala and motor centers - which are wired to speedily process sound for safety or defence.

Kraus also speaks about… whole brain processing of sound with significant cross-talk with other senses. She says that making sense of sound is profoundly governed by how we feel, think, see and move and conversely influences how we feel, think, see and move and that…”the sounds of our lives shape our brain” 

Sound is an invisible ally or enemy of brain health

Topics covered include:

  • Why is hearing underestimated?
  • Neural processing of sound in the brain.
  • EEG and Sound Stimuli.
  • Rhythms - brain and body in relation to understanding speech and reading.
  • Temporal timing - Interactive Metronome and sound processing
  • Dyslexia and sound processing.
  • Sound is complex- upsweeps, harmonics, rhythm, timing....
  • Sound Processing in Autism
  • Concussions and how sound processing is impacted.
  • The Aging brain and sound processing.
  • "Safe" Noise and the detrimental effects on our health.
  • How to maintain a healthy "Sound Mind."

My next Guest is Dr Arielle Shwartz who teaches about PVT and yoga

Take care till next time

Breathe Slow, Joanne


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