How Everyday Sounds Shape Our Brains
The raison d’être of professor Nina Kraus’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, at Northwestern University, is understanding how the brain makes sense of sounds. By conducting studies involving thousands of participants from ages 0 to 90, her team has found that the sonic environments we live in shape the biological infrastructure of our auditory systems, be it in favorable ways (as experienced by those who are bilingual, or who play music) or unfavorable ones (known to those who have experienced hearing loss or concussions). The “hearing brain,” as Kraus calls it, also affects other internal functions, including emotions, movement, and thought processes. Because of the profound ways that sound impacts who we are, the lab’s findings suggest, developing an awareness of soundscapes—and learning how to create and surround ourselves with positive ones—is of utmost importance.