Brown Bag Talk by Mr. Augustine Kang on 20 March

March 18, 2015


Speaker: Mr. Augustine Kang

Title: A Prospective Intervention Study on Diabetic Patients Undergoing Haemodialysis

Date: 20 March, 1-2pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


With Diabetes Mellitus (DM) being the most common cause of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and in addition to findings suggesting that this particular combination of comorbid conditions result in particularly poor clinical outcomes, there is mounting need to devise strategies to meet the challenges of this chronic disease population. To address the dearth of research in this area, a study was devised to explore needs of diabetic patients undergoing haemodialysis to guide the development of an intervention. In using a mixed methods observational study (n = 170), outcomes and needs of the patient population in question were assessed, including their input on preferred delivery and implementation of the program. Measures used include the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (B-IPQ), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) , Health Literacy Scale (HLS) , UCLA Loneliness Scale (ULS) , Beck Hopelessness Inventory (BHI) , the Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Acitivities (SDSCA) and Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire (TSRQ), among several other empirically validated scales. In line with the recent conclusion of data collection, some preliminary findings will be discussed consequently.

About the Speaker:

Augustine Kang is a Master of Social Sciences Candidate at the NUS Department of Psychology. He has been conducting research under the tutelage of A/P Konstadina Griva in the past 5 years, mainly in the area of Nephrology. 

Brown Bag Talk by Dr. Suzanne Jak on 13 March

March 10, 2015


Speaker: Dr. Suzanne Jak 

Title: Big Data in the Social Sciences

Date: 13 March, 1-2pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


One of the many definitions of Big Data is: ‘datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze’. Big data is extremely popular in business industries, marketing, and various fields of research. In psychology, or social sciences in general, research using big data is relatively scarce, despite the availability of possibly interesting big data from Facebook and Twitter. One of the reasons for the non-use of big data may be the computational skills that are needed to perform the statistical analyses. In this talk I will try to provide an overview of what big data is, its applications in psychology, the current options to analyze big data, and the problems associated with big data. The presented work is very preliminary, so input is most welcome.

About the Speaker:

Suzanne Jak completed her PhD in 2013 at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), with a dissertation about measurement invariance in multilevel data. After graduation, she started working as a post-doctoral researcher at Utrecht University. She received a Rubicon-grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, to work on meta-analytic structural equation modeling with Mike Cheung at the National University of Singapore during the year 2015.

Brown Bag Talk by Mr. Takashi Obana on 6 March

March 4, 2015

Psychology Brownbag Talk_6 March 2015 (Friday)_Takashi OBANA

Visiting Guest Speaker on 5 March – Dr. David McGonigle from Cardiff University

March 2, 2015


Speaker: Dr. David McGonigle

Title: Peering Under The Hood of transcranial Electrical Stimulation (tES)

Date: 5 March, 2-3pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) encompasses a family of neuromodulation techniques which have been demonstrated to produce prolonged, polarity-specific changes in neuronal excitability. One specific stimulation paradigm, transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is thought to  exert its influence by altering the physiological mechanisms that govern the balance between cortical excitation and inhibition. In this talk I will discuss current work at Cardiff focusing on using neuroimaging to better understand the underlying neurobiology of tDCS. 

About the Speaker:

David trained in Neuroscience at Glasgow University and moved to the Functional Imaging Lab in London for his PhD in the Functional Neuroanatomy of the Somatosensory System, supervised by Richard Frackowiak. After its completition in 2000 David accepted a PostDoctoral position in UCSF to learn Magnetoencephalography (MEG), first with Tim Roberts and latterly with Sri Nagarajan. David is currently based in Cardiff using a combination of neuroimaging and neurostimulation techniques to explore tactile function and plasticity in humans.


A/P Konstadina Griva at inaugural Asian Pacific Symposium in Motivational Interviewing

February 25, 2015

The Inaugural Asia-Pacific Symposium on Motivational Interviewing was held in Singapore between 5-6 February 2015. International and Singapore based Motivational Interviewing scholars and trainers led a series of interactive presentations and professional skills building workshops for more than 200 delegates.

A/P Konstadina Griva from Department of Psychology, NUS, had the honor of partnering with Distinguished Professor Stephen Rollnick, the co-founder of Motivational Interviewing as a co-trainer for the workshop on Motivational Interviewing and Health Care.


Brown Bag Talk by Prof. Richard Ebstein on 13 February

February 10, 2015


Speaker: Prof Richard Ebstein

Title: An oxytocin receptor SNP (rs53576) buffers the deleterious effect of impatience on cellular ageing

Date: 13 February, 1-2pm

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is an emerging marker of aging at the cellular level. However, little is known regarding its link with poor life choices that often entail being overly impatient or risk prone in decision making. Such poor life choices can be examined using behavioral economic paradigms in the laboratory viz. the degree of impatience and risk proneness– fundamental determinants of decision making. We first measured the degree of impatience, risk attitude and relative LTL in a sample of 1018 Han Chinese undergraduates using incentivized economic tasks. A highly significant correlation was observed between LTL and impatience (delay discounting) in female subjects that was robust controlling for age, risk proneness, as well as health-related variables. We then asked if endogenous factors such as genes could impact the effect of impatient behavior on LTL. The oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene, which has figured prominently in investigations of social cognition and psychological resources, is a likely candidate to moderate the impact of impatience and risk proneness on LTL. An intriguing interaction effect between OXTR rs53576 and impatience on LTL revealed that the rs53576 G allele, often associated with beneficial social traits, significantly mitigates the negative impact of impatience on cellular aging. No significant associations were observed in male subjects. The current results contribute to understanding the relationship between impatience and cellular aging, and demonstrate for the first time that an OXTR polymorphism has a buffering effect on accelerated cellular aging in women who make impatient choices.

About the Speaker:

Richard Ebstein is Professor in the Psychology Department and the National University of Singapore. He received his Ph.D. at Yale University in Biology and previous to relocating in Singapore was a Professor in the Psychology Department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Richard Ebstein’s research revolves around human behavior genetics, with the overarching goal of providing molecular insights into the role of genes as a partial contributor to all facets of human behavior. His work is highly interdisciplinary and combines personality, social, cognitive, and neuropsychology with techniques of molecular genetics. Major research areas include neuroeconomics, the genetics of social behavior, normal personality and psychopathology.

New staff: Dr. Cheung Hoi Shan

February 9, 2015


Hoi Shan obtained her Ph.D. specialising in Developmental Psychology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, and joined the Department as a postdoctoral fellow in January 2015. She has a long-standing interest in the study of local parenting practices and their influence on children’s development, spanning from early childhood to adolescence. During her stint as a Senior Research Officer at the Singapore Children’s Society between 2004 and 2008, she conducted studies which looked at disciplinary and child care practices adopted by local parents, and the state of children’s social and emotional well-being in Singapore. She has also conducted research on parent-peer dynamics in the context of social support provision for adolescents. Her Ph.D. dissertation examined the influence of maternal sensitivity and children’s temperament on the quality of peer relationships in preschool. She is currently working with A/P John Elliott to investigate cultural differences in parenting practices, which may have implications on the interpretation of parent-child relationship quality and consequently children’s developmental outcomes.

Brown Bag Talk by Ms. Lin Nianying on 6 February

February 3, 2015

Lin Nianying

Speaker: Ms. Lin Nianying

Title: Exploring the mediating role of cognitive vulnerabilities in the relationship between parenting practices and child internalizing problems

Date: 6 February, 1-2pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Negative parenting practices has been identified in literature to be related to childhood internalizing problems, and possibly as an antecedent for future psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and social phobia. The developmental processes through which negative parenting leads to such internalizing problems are however, less well defined due to diverse methodological approaches taken to examine the topic. A possible hypothesis could be that negative parenting predicts childhood internalizing problems through intensifying certain cognitive vulnerabilities that increase the risk of developing depressive and anxiety disorders. The present study seeks to investigate whether specific cognitive vulnerabilities (i.e., dysfunctional attitudes, negative cognitive style,  intolerance of uncertainty, and fear of negative evaluation) mediate the relationship between negative parenting practices and childhood internalizing problems, through a three-year longitudinal study conducted with elementary school-aged children in Singapore. Results suggested that cognitive vulnerabilities mediate the relationship between negative parenting and depression, but not anxiety and social phobia. Implications for the results will also be discussed.

About the Speaker:

Nianying received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the National University of Singapore (NUS). She is currently a M. Soc. Sci. student in the department. She enjoys working with children and her main research examines child psychosocial functioning in relation to parental factors. 

New staff: Dr. Camilo David Libedinsky

January 21, 2015


Dr. Camilo Libedinsky joined our department in January 2015. He obtained his B.Sc. in Biology from University of Chile in 2002, and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard Medical School in 2009, working with Margaret Livingstone in the neural mechanisms of conscious visual perception in humans and non-human primates. He then moved to Singapore, where he did 2 postdoctoral fellowships: one at Duke-NUS with Michael Chee, studying the neural basis of economic decision making in humans, and one in A*STAR, where he studied the neural basis of working memory and attention in non-human primates. He also participated in collaborations with engineers and clinicians to develop brain-machine interfaces.

Camilo’s research is broadly divided in 2 aims; (1) understanding cognitive phenomena, such as perception, attention and memory at the systems neural network level and behavioral level, and (2) developing neurotechnologies, such as brain-machine interfaces, to aid patients with nerve tissue damage or malfunction. He uses multi-electrode arrays chronically implanted in awake-behaving primates to record and stimulate the brain, and behavioral measurements in humans to address those aims.

Brown Bag Talk by Dr. Suzy Styles from NTU on 23 January

January 19, 2015


Speaker: Dr. Suzy Syles

Title: Linking language to sensation: How learning language shapes how we see, taste and feel

Date: 23 January, 1-2pm 

Venue: AS4/02-08 (Psychology Department Meeting Room)


Studies since the 1920s have shown that people prefer to match certain kinds of shapes to certain kinds of words (sometimes known as the bouba/kiki effect, Ramachandran & Hubbard, 2001). This effect has been shown in non-English speaking and non-literate populations (Bremner et al 2013), in pre-literate children (Maurer, Pathman & Mondloch, 2006), and in pre-verbal infants (Ozturk, 2013). Many commentators conclude that these effects are universal: natural patterns of neural connectivity between cortical sensory areas. However, English speech sounds dominate these studies, and most have been poorly controlled for the acoustics they investigate. This talk introduces a number of experiments where the acoustics of speech are systematically investigated, across a number of sensory domains. To investigate the ‘universality’ of these patterns, speakers with different language backgrounds are compared, and implications discussed in light of known patterns of language-specific perceptual adaptation.

About the Speaker:

Dr Styles specialised in Linguistics and Asian Studies at the Australian National University, before taking up doctoral training in psycholinguistics at the University of Oxford. She investigated early lexicon development using eye-gaze monitoring and EEG techniques at the Oxford University BabyLab. She joined NTU in August 2013 as a Nanyang Assistant Professor in Psychology. Her current research investigates how different sensory systems combine in the acquisition of language, and how this influences life-long cognition and perception.