OHSU Research Week 2022 features Nina Kraus, Ph.D., a neuroscientist who thinks about sound and brain health. In her 30-plus career, she’s done pathbreaking research on sound and hearing — and how our ‘sound minds’ make sense of our personal auditory experiences. She is Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University.
Join the keynote on Tuesday, May 3, from 4-5 p.m.
The sound-brain partnership
Making sense of sound is one of the more challenging tasks we ask our brains to do. With millisecond precision, the auditory system not only encodes important sound ingredients, but also assigns meaning.
In her award-winning book, OF SOUND MIND: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World, Kraus examines the important partnership between sound and the brain, showing that auditory processing drives many of the brain’s core functions and leaves a fundamental imprint on who we are as human beings. Kraus 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.
The hurting brain
A hurting brain can disrupt this intricate and delicate listening process. To measure the effects of concussion on the hearing brain, Kraus and her colleagues are conducting an NIH-funded longitudinal study examining the effects of sports-related concussion and participation in contact and collision sports in Big 10 collegiate student-athletes and children. Her group, Brainvolts, has shown that even a mild traumatic brain injury can disrupt the auditory system’s ability to encode sound and understanding in noise. Brainvolts’ scientific approach can help us improve concussion diagnosis, ensure player safety and build a healthier sonic world.
Kraus advocates for biologically informed choices in education, health, and society. See www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu for more information.
This is a must see Research Week event — as with most Research Week events, it is open to the public.