Nina Kraus

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Wednesday Plenary Speaker

Nina Kraus is Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University. She 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 auditory learning 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, for better (musicians, bilinguals) or worse (concussion, aging, hearing loss, language disorders), shape auditory processing. She continues to conduct parallel experiments in animal models to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these phenomena.

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 and granularity in indexing brain function. With her technological innovations she is now pushing science beyond the traditional laboratory by conducting studies in schools, community centers, and clinics.

Using the principles of neuroscience to improve human communication, she advocates for best practices in education, health, and social policy.