Virtual Event: Nina Kraus


Of Sound Mind:
How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World

in conversation with ANIRUDDH PATEL


January 10, 2022
6:00 PM ET


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Free - $5 contribution suggested at registration

Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome NINA KRAUS—the Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Communication Sciences, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University—for a discussion of her book Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World. She will be joined in conversation by ANIRUDDH PATEL, the acclaimed author of Music, Language, and the Brain

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About Of Sound Mind

Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs we ask our brains to do. In Of Sound Mind, Nina Kraus examines the partnership of sound and brain, showing for the first time that the processing of sound drives many of the brain's core functions. Our hearing is always on—we can't close our ears the way we close our eyes—and yet we can ignore sounds that are unimportant. We don't just hear; we engage with sounds. Kraus explores what goes on in our brains when we hear a word—or a chord, or a meow, or a screech.

Our hearing brain, Kraus tells us, is vast. It interacts with what we know, with our emotions, with how we think, with our movements, and with our other senses. Auditory neurons make calculations at one-thousandth of a second; hearing is the speediest of our senses. Sound plays an unrecognized role in both healthy and hurting brains. Kraus explores the power of music for healing as well as the destructive power of noise on the nervous system. She traces what happens in the brain when we speak another language, have a language disorder, experience rhythm, listen to birdsong, or suffer a concussion. Kraus shows how our engagement with sound leaves a fundamental imprint on who we are. The sounds of our lives shape our brains, for better and for worse, and help us build the sonic world we live in.

Praise for Of Sound Mind

“Nina Kraus is a brilliant communicator in her explorations of music and the brain. Of Sound Mind is an engaging and entertaining read. With lively analogies and diagrams, the book is accessible for those just getting their ‘ears’ wet, but has much to offer for musicians and researchers as well.” —Renée Fleming, soprano and arts and health advocate

“A highly informative and clearly written book: Kraus’s enthusiasm for the understanding of the place of sound in our world is infectious. She shows us just how deeply sound, and in particular music, is intertwined in the brain with everything else that makes us who we are: how it can harm and how it can heal. I know of nothing quite like it.” —Iain McGilchrist, Consultant Psychiatrist and author of The Master and His Emissary

“One of the most beautiful, evocative, illuminating books ever written about how what we hear shapes who we are. I never wanted this book to end.” —Maryanne Wolf, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, and author of Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World

Aniruddh Patel
Aniruddh Patel

Aniruddh Patel

Aniruddh (Ani) Patel is a Professor of Psychology at Tufts University, where he researches the cognitive, neural, and evolutionary foundations of musicality. He is the author of Music, Language, and the Brain and of the lecture series Music and The Brain from The Great Courses.

Nina Kraus
Nina Kraus

Nina Kraus

Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist who has done pathbreaking research on sound and hearing for more than thirty years, is Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Communication Sciences, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University.

Photo Credit: Justin Barber

Join our online event (or pre-register) via the link in the event description.
Event Series: Harvard Science Book Talks

The Harvard Science Book Talks series is a collaboration between the Harvard University Division of Science, the Harvard Library, and Harvard Book Store. The series features talks by the authors of recently published books on a variety of science-related topics and is open to both the Harvard community and to the general public. Typically, lectures are followed by a book signing with the author and refreshments. Learn more and watch recordings of past talks here

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