October Narrative Medicine Rounds with Nina Kraus – “Music and the Brain: How Our Lives in Sound Shape Who We Are”
October 3 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
“Music and the Brain: How Our Lives in Sound Shape Who We Are” : A Talk by Nina Kraus
For our October Narrative Medicine Rounds, we welcome Nina Kraus, PhD, who is the Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University.
Her talk, “Music and the Brain,” will center on the ways sound processing in the brain is a reflection of brain health. “How our brains respond to sound reveals each person’s unique narrative of their life experiences,” says Dr. Kraus.
Some of the questions to be considered: How do our experiences, such as learning how to play music and playing sports, affect our brain? Although we are surrounded by sound all of the time, we rarely give much thought to this invisible yet powerful companion. The auditory system is a uniquely complex sensory system and the ability to make sense of sound relies on exquisite precision by the brain. Given the complexity and precision of the auditory system, accurate sound processing is particularly vulnerable to head injury. On the other hand, its precision can be honed by activities that exercise the auditory brain such as playing a musical instrument.
“We have discovered a way to objectively capture the imprint that sounds leave on our brains,” says Dr. Kraus. “This biological approach empowers us to learn more and more about this invisible ally and enemy of brain health.” Dr. Kraus will examine the promise of measuring sound-prints in the brain to assess and manage sports-related concussions. She will discuss how music training is beneficial for the brain, strengthens our communication skills, and can inform health care, education, and social policy. Join us to get swept away in this sensory learning experience.
Nina Kraus is a scientist, inventor 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 following 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, aging, language disorders)—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. For more information about Nina Kraus’s work and the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, go to www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu