Carnegie Mellon University
May 07, 2019

Shinn-Cunningham Earns Silver Medal from Acoustical Society of America

By Heidi Opdyke

Renowned auditory neuroscientist Barbara Shinn-Cunningham has been named the 2019 recipient of the Helmholtz Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal in Psychological and Physiological Acoustics and Speech Communication "for understanding the cognitive and neural bases of speech perception in complex acoustic environments."

Shinn-Cunningham is director of Carnegie Mellon University's Neuroscience Institute, co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, and a professor of psychology, biomedical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering.

"Barb has been an amazing addition to the CMU community, and this award reinforces her commitment and pursuit of world-class interdisciplinary science. Her leadership of CMU's new Neuroscience Institute, combined with Barb's groundbreaking research on understanding how the neural basis of audition, has already had a significant impact on our faculty and students," said Michael J. Tarr, head of the Department of Psychology and the Kavčić-Moura Professor of Cognitive and Brain Science."

A fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, as well as a former vice president and member of the ASA Executive Council, Shinn-Cunningham is known for her spatial hearing work on the "cocktail party problem," which looks at how the brain blocks out certain sounds to pay attention to others. Her research uses behavioral, neuroimaging and computational methods to understand auditory processing from how sound is encoded in the inner ear to how cognitive networks understand auditory information in the brain.

"Hearing loss can have a profound impact on individuals' daily lives and contributes to impaired social, psychological and cognitive function," Shinn-Cunningham said. "As the population ages and noise exposure in our society steadily increases, understanding and treating hearing loss is one of the most important efforts of our time."

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