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Neuroscience Institute

Barbara Shinn-Cunningham

Dr. Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, Ph. D.

George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Auditory Neuroscience 
Director, Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute
Co-Director, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition
Professor, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, and Electrical & Computer Engineering 


    ◦ Sc.B., Electrical Engineering, magna cum laude, Brown University, 1986

    ◦ M.S., Electrical & Computer Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988

    ◦ Ph.D., Electrical & Computer Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994


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.


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

Awards and Recognition

    ◦ Whitaker Foundation Biomedical Engineering Fellow, 1999 

    ◦ Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Neuroscience, 2000

    ◦ National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow, 2008

    ◦ Associate Member of the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, 2008

    ◦ Fellow, Acoustical Society of America, 2009

    ◦ Mentorship Award, Student Council of the Acoustical Society of America, 2013

    ◦ Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, 2016

    ◦ Women in Acoustics Named Luncheon Honoree, Acoustical Society of America, 2017


Room 254G, Baker Hall
4909 Frew Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Suite 115, Mellon Institute 
4400 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Contact Information

Phone: (412)  268-3157
Fax: (412) 268-5060