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Northwestern School of Communication

Nina Kraus

Professor of Neurobiology, Otolaryngology; Hugh Knowles Chair; Fellow, Hugh Knowles Center
My research on sound and the brain aims to understand how our life in sound, for better and worse, alters the processing of sound in the brain, makes us us, and affects the world we live in.

Area(s) of Expertise

Auditory Processing, Hearing, Language Learning and Processing, Neuroscience
Nina Kraus

Nina Kraus, Ph.D., is a scientist, inventor, and amateur musician who studies the biology of auditory learning. 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 auditory learning in humans.

In her deep examination of sound and the brain, Kraus makes the case for the far-reaching impact of sound, showing how hearing engages how we think, feel, move, and combine our senses. Through auditory neuroscience, she discovered how the sounds of our lives engage our neurological health for better (musicians, bilinguals) and for worse (language disorders, autism and other developmental disorders, concussion, HIV, hearing loss). Having witnessed first-hand (in single neurons and humans) how hearing can change the brain, affecting, more than any other sense, our interactions with others, she places a premium on communicating the scientific rationale for engaging in activities to strengthen the hearing brain and our sonic world. The cornerstone of her research is the ambition to improve social communication.

Her book OF SOUND MIND How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World communicates these principles in a narrative digestible to any interested reader. OF SOUND MIND is Kraus’ love letter to sound, how sound connects us, its biological impact on making us us, and how it affects the world we live in.

Never having accepted a lack of technology as a roadblock to scientific discovery, Kraus has invented new ways to measure the biology of sound processing in humans that provide unprecedented precision in indexing brain function. By finding connections across seemingly disparate disciplines, she is pushing science beyond the traditional laboratory, in schools, community centers, athletic facilities, and clinics, and advocating for best practices in education, health, and social policy. 


PhD, Northwestern University

BA, Swarthmore College


Full list of publications

Recent Awards and Honors

Keynote addresses and invited talks

Recent News Stories

In the News

Recent Grants and Funding

More than 20 years of federal funding.


CSD 310: Biological Foundations of Speech and Music

SAI 501:Communicating Science