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Playing Sports for Quieter Brains with Nina Kraus, PhD

When we read about college and youth sports today, it's usually about the dangers to health — mainly, concussions. However, a new study led by Nina Kraus, PhD, director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, Brainvolts, has found that athletes have healthier brains than non-athletes.

Nina Kraus

"We are what we do. Our brain's response to sound changes with how we spend our time and the sound-to-meaning connections that we make throughout our lives."
— Nina Kraus, PhD

  • Director, Brainvolts, Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory
  • Hugh Knowles Chair
  • Professor of Communication Sciences, Neurobiology & Otolaryngology

Episode Notes

Nina Kraus, PhD, is a pioneer in the field of auditory neuroscience. She began her career measuring responses from single neurons and was one of the first to show that the adult nervous system has the potential for reorganization following learning.

Processing sound is one of the most complex jobs our brains can do. It occurs within microseconds. And if the timing is disrupted, if the brain is injured or concussed, that process is compromised. In a partnership with Northwestern Athletics, Kraus and the Brainvolts team are measuring the neuro-processing of 500 Division-1 Northwestern athletes and comparing them to other Northwestern students in a five-year study supported by the National Institutes of Health. So far, they have already discovered that athletes have less neural static in their brains and stronger sound processing.

The Brainvolts team also investigates music, multilingualism and aging among other topics, all with the overarching perspective of sound processing in the brain.

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Continuing Medical Education Credit

Physicians who listen to this podcast may claim continuing medical education credit after listening to an episode of this program.

Target Audience

Academic/Research, Multiple specialties

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the research interests and initiatives of Feinberg faculty.
  2. Discuss new updates in clinical and translational research.
Accreditation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine designates this Enduring Material for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure Statement

Nina Kraus, PhD, has nothing to disclose. Course director, Robert Rosa, MD, has nothing to disclose. Planning committee member, Erin Spain, has nothing to disclose. Feinberg School of Medicine's CME Leadership and Staff have nothing to disclose: Clara J. Schroedl, MD, Medical Director of CME, Sheryl Corey, Manager of CME, Jennifer Banys, Senior Program Administrator, Allison McCollum, Senior Program Coordinator, and Rhea Alexis Banks, Administrative Assistant 2.

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