Carnegie Mellon University

Barbara Shinn-Cunningham

Barbara Shinn-Cunningham

Director, Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute, George A. and Helen Durham Cowan Professor of Auditory Neuroscience, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Professor of Psychology (Affiliated)

  • Baker Hall 335A
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Areas of Expertise

Cognitive Neuroscience, Perception


Barbara Shinn-Cunningham became the Director of the Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute in 2018. Before joining Carnegie Mellon, she spent over twenty years on the faculty of Boston University (first in Cognitive and Neural Systems, and later in Biomedical Engineering). Her innovative work in auditory neuroscience has been recognized by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Whitaker Foundation, and the Vannevar Bush Fellows program. She has held numerous elected and appointed leadership positions in professional organizations such as the Association for Research in Otolaryngology and the Acoustical Society of America, and serves as on numerous advisory boards within both academia and industry.


  • B.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Brown University

  • M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, MIT

  • Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, MIT


How do we make sense of speech and other sounds, given the cacophony reaching our ears in ordinary social settings? What brain networks allow us to focus attention and suppress uninteresting sound? Can we develop new assistive communication devices and technologies that leverage  knowledge from auditory neuroscience to aid listeners with hearing impairment or other communication disorders? Dr. Shinn-Cunningham's research uses behavioral, neuroimaging, and computational methods to understand auditory processing, from how sound is encoded in the inner ear to how cognitive networks modulate the representation of auditory information in the brain.

Research Interests: auditory attention in normal and special populations; binaural and spatial hearing; subcortical and cortical sound processing; multi-sensory attention networks


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