Episode Summary

Lecture | Nina Kraus | Sound and Brain Health: What Have We Learned from Music and Concussion

Episode Notes

To make sense of sound, there is a wide activation of sensorimotor, cognitive, and reward circuitry in the brain. Active and repeated engagement with sounds that activate all these circuits, therefore, is a route to honing our brain function. Playing music is like hitting the jackpot for the brain because it requires the motor system, deeply engages our emotions, and absolutely gives us a cognitive workout. We have employed a biological approach, the frequency-following response (FFR), to reveal the integrity of sound processing in the brain and how these brain processes are shaped by music training. We have found that music works in synergistic partnerships with language skills and the ability to make sense of speech in noisy, everyday listening environments. We have found that music brings about a “speeding” of auditory system development, and a tendency toward a reversal of the biological impact of poverty-induced linguistic deprivation. The generalization from music to everyday communication illustrates both that these auditory brain mechanisms have a profound potential for plasticity and that sound processing is biologically intertwined with listening and language skills. In much the same way as music benefits sound processing in the brain, concussion brings about sound processing dysfunction, pointing to a role for auditory function assessment in the management of concussion. Together, these findings also have the potential to inform health care, education, and social policy by lending a neurobiological perspective to music education and the management of concussion.

About the Show

What is the nature of the human mind? The Emory Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture (CMBC) brings together scholars and researchers from diverse fields and perspectives to seek new answers to this fundamental question. Neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, biological and cultural anthropologists, sociologists, geneticists, behavioral scientists, computer scientists, linguists, philosophers, artists, writers, and historians all pursue an understanding of the human mind, but institutional isolation, the lack of a shared vocabulary, and other communication barriers present obstacles to realizing the potential for interdisciplinary synthesis, synergy, and innovation.

It is our mission to support and foster discussion, scholarship, training, and collaboration across diverse disciplines to promote research at the intersection of mind, brain, and culture. What brain mechanisms underlie cognition, emotion, and intelligence and how did these abilities evolve? How do our core mental abilities shape the expression of culture and how is the mind and brain in turn shaped by social and cultural innovations? Such questions demand an interdisciplinary approach. Great progress has been made in understanding the neurophysiological basis of mental states; positioning this understanding in the broader context of human experience, culture, diversity, and evolution is an exciting challenge for the future. By bringing together scholars and researchers from diverse fields and across the college, university, area institutions, and beyond, the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture (CMBC) seeks to build on and expand our current understanding to explore how a deeper appreciation of diversity, difference, context, and change can inform understanding of mind, brain, and behavior.

In order to promote intellectual exchange and discussion across disciplines, the CMBC hosts diverse programming, including lectures by scholars conducting cutting-edge cross-disciplinary research, symposia and conferences on targeted innovative themes, lunch discussions to foster collaboration across fields, and public conversations to extend our reach to the greater Atlanta community. Through our CMBC Graduate Certificate Program, we are training the next generation of interdisciplinary scholars to continue this mission.