Dr. Nina Kraus, Neuroscientist, Inventor, Professor, Researcher & Musician: Madeline’s Monthly Musical Tips Blog & Radio Show for November 2022

Our Radio Show and blog celebrates the life and work of Dr. Nina Kraus, neuroscientist, inventor, researcher, and musician. She “studies the biology of auditory learning.”

Many of the world’s neuroscientists, medical doctors, mathematicians, biologists, chemists, scientists, engineers, writers, teachers, and others have studied and played musical instruments since they were children. These eminent individuals have integrated music into their thinking process. Medical research has determined that when you play a musical instrument, all four lobes of the brain and the cerebellum are being stimulated. By playing a musical instrument, brain cells are strengthened and form new connections. The brain is a Darwinian organ that changes with the stimulation it receives. (Dr. Gerald Edelman, MD, Ph.D., 1972 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, was Director of Neurosciences Institute and Chairman of the Department of Neurobiology at Scripps Research Institute in California was also a marvelous violinist).

Our article of the month is “Encouragement: The Key to Happiness” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Radio Show Feature Question for November 2022: How does Classical music play a part of Dr. Nina Kraus’s life as a neuroscientist, inventor, professor, researcher, and musician and which musical instruments does she play?



Earl Years:

Nina Kraus’s “favorite places to play as a child was underneath the piano, while listening to her mother playing Scarlatti, Scriabin or Brahms.”

She said, “I’d bring my toys and little things with me—it just felt good to me to be under there.”

Throughout her life she had musical training.  She says, “Even now I play a couple of instruments, electric guitar, piano, harmonica. I like to sing harmony… I play these things with great love and great enthusiasm.”

“Her mother’s professional piano playing was just one of the rich and compelling sounds in her childhood. In addition to live music, her home featured the lyrical voices of her European-born parents, who spoke Italian, French and German.”

 Dr. Kraus says, “these early experiences made such an impression on me that studying how we process sound became my life’s work.”

She continues, “I must have realized that sound was important somehow. My whole career has been looking at our life in sound, for better and worse.”

Dr. Kraus earned her BA at Swarthmore College and her Ph.D., in Neuroscience from Northwestern University.

“Dr. Nina Kraus is a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University where she directs the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University,

also known as Brainvolts.”

For over 30 years she has “done pathbreaking research on sound and hearing.” (At Northwestern University, Dr. Kraus is the Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Communication Sciences, and Otolaryngology.)



Josephine Reed said, “Dr. Kraus has made the study of how we biologically process sound her life’s work. She and the Brainvolts’ team have conducted long-term, multi-year studies looking at the brainwaves of children and found that making music—whether with instrument or voice—actually makes biological changes to the way the brain processes sound which, in turn, strengthens the ability of the brain to better apprehend the depth and breadth of language and speech. Simply put, creating music builds our capacity to turn sound into meaning. Nina is passionate about sound.” (Interview with Josephine Reed and Dr. Nina Kraus, July 18, 2019, National Endowments for the Arts.)



 “The Cognitive Benefits of Music”  (From an interview with Edutopia, April 22, 2022.)

Dr. Nina Kraus said“The hearing brain is vast. People think of the hearing brain as being a silo within the brain. In fact, our hearing engages our cognitive, sensory, motor, and reward systems. That’s huge. From an evolutionary perspective, being able to make sense of sound is ancient and has engaged all these different perspectives.”

“What makes music learning so powerful is how it engages all those different systems in a single activity. To play the violin, for example, a student needs to coordinate their motor, cognitive, and sensory systems to be able to put their fingers on the correct strings and move the bow at the right time; to read musical notes on a sheet of music and know what sounds they represent; and to hear if the pitches and rhythms are correct and coordinating with other players at the right time. Then there’s how the sound of music makes the student feel, which lights up the brain’s reward system. Engaging all these different systems makes learning how to play music one of the richest and deepest brain activities that humans perform. Teachers resoundingly tell me that children who play music also do better in school. Young musicians also tend to have stronger language and reading skills than non-musicians because their brains have spent more time actively “engaging with sound.”

Dr. Kraus continues, “The type of instrument doesn’t matter: flute, violin, accordion, piano, voice—even abundant exposure to music can make an impact. “What is important is that engaging with sound changes and strengthens how the brain responds to sound.”

Neuroscientist Dr. Nina Kraus is the author of the new book  “Of Sound Mind”. 

Dr. Kraus says in her book “Of Sound Mind: “Much of Brainvolts’ research has been devoted to measuring midbrain electricity, in the form of the “frequency following response (FFR),” and using it as a point of departure to study brain mechanisms underlying music, reading, autism, aging, and more.”


Dr. Nina Kraus is a neuroscientist, inventor, professor, researcher, author, musician, wife, and mother. For over 30 years she has “done pathbreaking research on sound and hearing.”



Encouragement: The Key to Happiness by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Every person in life needs positive encouragement to motivate and inspire them for success. Dr. George Adams says, “Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.”

George W. Crane, medical doctor, psychologist, professor, and author taught in Chicago in the 1920’s at North Western University. When he began teaching students in his evening classes, he found that his adult students were older working in businesses, stores, factories, and offices during the day. Each of them desired to improve their education at night. Some of his students told him they felt isolated and shy. He designed his first assignment to help his students connect with others.

Dr. Crane said to his class, “You are to use your psychology every day either at home or work on the streetcars and buses. For the first month, your written assignment will be the Compliment Club. Every day you are to pay an honest compliment to each of three different persons… for 30 consecutive days.” He said, “Keep a record of those to whom you pay your three compliments. You need not give me their names, but list them as ‘Newsboy’ or ‘Street conductor’ or ‘Sales clerk’. Keep an accurate record of how people acknowledge your compliments.”

Dr. Crane said, “At the end of the 30-day experiment, I want you to write a theme or paper on your experiences. Include the changes you have noted in the people around you, as well as your own altered outlook on life.”

As his students complimented others their lives changed and improved too! And by complementing others they were motivated, encouraged, and inspired as well. Dr. Crane said, “Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good on earth.”

As a teacher I have watched my students and colleagues blossom from words of encouragement. By giving them a sincere compliment, they have the energy and the desire to try harder at whatever they are working on. Everyone in life needs positive encouragement to help them grow, inspire and motivate them to succeed. The “Power of Encouragement” gives us hope that we can succeed and everyone needs it!

A fabulous story of motivating and inspiring students is “All the Good Things” by Sister Helen P. Mrosla. She was teaching her eighth-grade math students a very difficult math concept and her students were very frustrated. This is when she asked her students to write down all the students names in the class, on two sheets of paper, and to leave room to write, “the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates”.

After class, Sister Mrosla made a separate list of these wonderful compliments on two sheets of note book paper for each student and handed them out to her students the following Monday. Her students were all glowing with happiness after reading their sheets. Many years later she would be asked to attend Mark Eklund’s funeral by his parents. Her former student was killed in Vietnam. When she spoke to his parents after the funeral they shared with Sister Mrosla the two sheets of notebook paper that she had written down “all the good things” his classmates had written about him. These two sheets were well worn and were in his pocket when he died.

Mark’s mother said, ” Thank you so much for doing that. As you can see, Mark treasured it.”

These words of praise can last a life time. In all of life, people need praise and encouragement to improve, to be inspired, to learn, and to grow. When President Abraham Lincoln died, among the items in his pocket were 8 newspaper clippings on positive things said about him during his re-election campaign. During his Presidency, Lincoln was maligned many times by the newspapers.

These 8 newspaper clippings, President Lincoln read and re-read just as Mark Eklund read and re-read “all the good things” said about him by his classmates. Both men “treasured” their sheets. Words of praise can last a life time!

One of my favorite rules is Dr. John Maxwell’s “30 second rule” which says, “Within the first thirty seconds of a conversation, say something encouraging to a person.” This should be your motto for connecting with your students, family members, your colleagues, and anyone else you are around.

So, what are the three simple things you can do beginning today, for your ten-day challenge to inspire, encourage, and motivate others around you?

1) As Dr. George Crane said, “Every day pay an honest compliment to each of three different persons.” Coach John Wooden said “Be specific with your praise.”

2) Follow Dr. John Maxwell’s “30 second rule” and say your inspiring words within 30 seconds of talking to someone. Dave Sheffield, motivational speaker and author says, “Happy employees equal happy customers”.

3) Every evening at home think of several “honest compliments” you can give to “3 different people” you will be coming in contact with the next day. They can be family members, business co -workers, students, friends, and strangers. Happy people are inspired and motivated to do better work. Give the gift of compliments and you will be given a gift in return.

So, begin today to train your mind to look for the good in people to brighten their day and your day. Always begin with an “honest compliment”! Remember words of encouragement motivate and inspire us to do a better job, to improve our skills, and work at a higher level. (C) 2022 Madeline Frank. If you need a virtual speaker contact Madeline at  [email protected]



Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving, from Your Non-Invasive Medicine Music Expert, Madeline

For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems in learning through Classical music. She is an award-winning teacher, an amazon.com best-selling author, researcher, speaker, conductor, and concert artist. She has discovered a scientific link between studying a musical instrument and academic and societal success. Her books are “The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music and “Musical Notes On Math”. Madeline earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. (C) 2022 Madeline Frank