Questions for Nina Kraus – Evanston RoundTable

Author Nina Kraus: This is my love-letter to sound, how sound connects us, its biological impact on making us us, and how it affects the world we live in.” (Photo: Justin Barber)

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 on her 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.

Your cocktail-party description of Of Sound Mind:

This is my love-letter to sound, how sound connects us, its biological impact on making us us, and how it affects the world we live in. Sound is an underrecognized, powerful force in our lives. The hearing brain engages how we think, feel, move and integrate our other senses.

When you realized you wanted to be an author:

I didn’t realize it, consciously. It just happened. If you visit my lab’s website, you’ll find we study music, rhythm, bilingualism, concussion, aging, language and its disorders. I wanted to bring all these themes together in one place. The book is written conversationally, full of personal anecdotes (science is a deeply human endeavor), while at the same time, drawing on accumulated scientific literature. Art is science. Science is art. There are 80 original illustrations, most conceived in partnership with artist Katie Shelly.

Your first published work:

About 400 scientific articles. Of Sound Mind is my first book. My first article was my dissertation. I witnessed firsthand how a neuron would change its activity once a rabbit learned a sound had meaning.

Author you most admire, dead or alive:

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