Brown Bag Talk by Ms. Esther Wu on 14 November

November 11, 2014


Speaker: Ms. Esther Wu

Title: “Lights, camera, action – CUT! How film cuts influence eye movements”

Date: 14 November 2014, 1-2pm

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


Film transitions are often encountered during movies. For example, one shot of a movie may be abruptly replaced by another that depicts a different time, place, or perspective. Yet, despite the large perceptual and semantic changes they bring about, film transitions do not seem to impair the experience of watching a movie very much. In this talk, I will present several studies that examined how film transitions influence eye movements and perceptual scene understanding. Following a transition, the eyes moved systematically to the center of the screen. This tendency to center the eyes increased with how much the initial scene was changed, and corresponded with viewers’ explicit awareness of the change. Additionally, the tendency to center the eyes seemed to occur automatically. Our study demonstrates the characteristics of eye movements following a film transition, and provides the scientific basis for several considerations during film editing.

About the Speaker:

Esther is a currently a Ph.D student at the Department of Psychology. Her research interest lies in how people make eye movements when viewing scenes. For her doctoral research, she has been working on eye movement models and the influence of abrupt scene transitions on eye movement plans. She holds a B.Eng from NUS, and a M.Phil in Psychology from the University of Oslo.

Brown Bag Talk by A/P Marios Avraamides on 7 November

November 3, 2014


Speaker: A/P Marios Avraamides

Title: “Coordinating in spatial tasks: The influence of representational and social cues”

Date: 7 November 2014, 1-2pm

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


Spatial memory supports the execution of many of our everyday activities. For example, we find our way to the office every day and we initiate movements to locate out-of-sight objects in our home because we are able to retrieve from memory information about where things are in the environment. Moreover, in many cases we communicate such information to others, e.g., when providing route directions to a visitor or a description of the layout of buildings in the city center.  In a series of studies conducted in my lab, Alexia Galati and I have investigated how various cues influence spatial memory and the linguistic descriptions people provide in communicative contexts. Specifically, in the studies that will be presented, we have examined how contextual social cues such as the availability of the conversational partner’s viewpoint and representational cues such as the intrinsic structure of the spatial configuration jointly determine the way  information is maintained in spatial memory as well as the perspective of descriptions that are produced. Overall, our findings suggest that people weigh multiple cues (including social ones) to make attributions about the relative difficulty of perspective taking for each conversational partner, and adapt behaviour to minimize their collective effort.

About the Speaker:

Marios Avraamides is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Cyprus where he directs the Experimental Psychology Lab. He has previously obtained a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and an MSc and a PhD degree in Cognitive/Experimental Psychology from the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to assuming a position in Cyprus, he had worked as a postdoctoral  scientist at the University of California Santa Barbara (USA) and at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics (Germany).  In Fall 2012 he was a visiting scientist at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge (UK). At the University of Cyprus he teaches courses on Cognitive and Experimental Psychology, Memory, Attention, and Perception. His research interests lie within the field of spatial cognition and include among others spatial memory, navigation, and perspective-taking.

Brown Bag Talk by Ms. Rui Qi on 31 October

October 27, 2014


Speaker: Ms. Rui Qi

Title: “Predicting Nonword Repetition and Spelling Development in Bilingual Kindergarten Children”

Date: 31 October 2014, 1-2pm

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


Brown and Hulme (1996) proposed a model of the causal relationships between receptive vocabulary, phonological memory and spelling for monolingual English-speaking children. Little is known about the equivalent processing in different bilingual groups. To evaluate and extend the model for the bilingual population, 29 pairs of Mandarin-L1/English-L2 and Malay-L1/English-L2 4- to 5-year-olds (matched on English receptive and expressive vocabulary) were assessed on nonword repetition (NWR) performance at Time 1 and WRAT4 spelling in English a year later at Time 2. Hierarchical regressions revealed group differences: Mandarin-ESL children seem to rely on different types of vocabulary measures for the nonword repetition and spelling tasks but expressive vocabulary seems to be consistently related with the two tasks for the Malay-ESL children. The data suggest ESL group differences in the underlying cognitive-linguistic factors influencing these variables.

About the Speaker:

Rui Qi is currently a Masters candidate in the Department of Psychology. Her primary area of research is in the psycholinguistic domain, specifically the phonological and spelling development in bilingual children. Outside of research, she can be found reading about anything literature, science, feminism, the environment et al.

Brown Bag Talk by Ms. Mary Lee Lay Choo on 24 October

October 20, 2014


Speaker: Ms. Mary Lee Lay Choo

Title: “Vocabulary Development of Bilingual Preschoolers in Singapore”

Date: 24 October 2014, 1-2pm

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


For monolingual children, receptive vocabulary is a good indicator of overall language abilities (Paul, 2001) and predicts literacy skills and academic success. Measuring vocabulary development in bilingual children is more challenging and understanding its role in literacy is rather complex. Few, if any studies have tracked changes in a single setting, using objective, culturally appropriate tests, and contrasting languages. Following a brief introduction to the context and the range of variables employed for this longitudinal study (from Nursery to Kindergarten 2, ages 4-6 years),   the nature of vocabulary development will be described for three contrasting groups of bilingual pre-schoolers living in Singapore: English L1/Mandarin L2 (n=34), Mandarin L1/English L2 (n=31), and Malay L1/English L2 (n=30). For each child, five different measures of vocabulary were collated:  single language receptive vocabulary in L1 and L2, single language expressive vocabulary in L1 and L2, and total conceptual expressive vocabulary (singlets plus doublet overlap in L1/L2). In addition to age and language exposure at home and in kindergarten, the results suggest that the pattern of vocabulary development depends on the relationship between the bilingual child’s two languages, notably phonology.

About the Speaker:

Mary is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology. Her main research interest is language and literacy development of bilingual children. Prior to the Ph.D. programme, she worked at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital assessing children with special needs.


Cha Yeow Siah, Ryan Hong, Jia Lile, and Trevor Penney have won the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award!

October 16, 2014



We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Cha Yeow Siah, Dr. Ryan Hong, Dr. Jia Lile, and A/P Trevor Penney have been recognized for their outstanding teaching for AY2013/2014! Congratulations!!

A/P Leher Singh’s research featured on Channel News Asia

October 14, 2014

A/P Leher Singh’s recent research on bilingual infants was featured on two Channel News Asia programs, It Figures and Singapore Tonight. Click below to view the full videos:

















Special Brown Bag Talk by Mr. Sven-Amin Lembke on 9 October

October 7, 2014

Psychology Brownbag Talk_9 Oct 2014 (Thursday)

Brown Bag Talk by Dr. Gregor Lange on 10 October

October 7, 2014


Speaker: Dr. Gregor Lange

Title: “Mindfulness”

Date: 10 October 2014, 1-2pm

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


In this talk I will explore the concept and practice of mindfulness.  Furthermore, I will outline how it is useful not just for our students but also applicable to staff.  We will explore how mindfulness relates to mind wandering, happiness, and being productive at work or studying.

About the Speaker:

Gregor Lange is a German-born, Irish- and American trained clinical psychologist. His work experiences include working in public health care services (Ireland), private clinics (Ireland, USA, Vietnam), and currently lecturing at NUS where he teaches Mindful Psychology. He has also worked as an independent consultant, researcher, and author. Gregor’s clinical work has included working with families, couples and individual adults with a variety of problems for more than 10 years. He is particularly interested in mindfulness-based interventions and how mindfulness can enrich the lives of clients and the community.

Brown Bag Talk by Prof Richard Ebstein on 3 October

September 29, 2014


Speaker: Prof Richard Ebstein

Title: “Gene – Culture Coevolution” Exemplified by the Rice – Wheat Culture Theory in China

Date: 3 October 2014, 1-2pm

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


A unique feature of H. sapiens is that many of the skills essential for individual and group survival can be passed from one generation to the next. Such cultural evolution in humans is apparently an important mechanism that can help explain group selection especially in the presence of other complementary processes. Moreover, evidence suggests that cultural and genetic forces are likely to jointly shape broad aspects of human behaviour, a conceptualisation referred to as gene-culture coevolution.

A recent article in SCIENCE suggests that in China there are differences based on geography in wheat and rice farming that are reflected in levels of holistic versus analytical thinking. Our group here in NUS (B2ESS) investigated these findings using our own data of more than 1000 university students in Beijing. We not only confirm but extend the initial findings using behavioural economic as well as Chinese national survey data. Additionally, we also observe that a particular gene, the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4), appears to partially mediate the cultural differences in prosocial behaviour and farming practices. Hence, our findings add to the nascent field of gene – culture coevolution and suggest that genetic mechanisms are important in embedding human cultural norms.

About the Speaker:

Prof Ebstein completed his Masters and PhD at Yale University, after which he held numerous positions such as Assistant Professor at New York University Medical Center to Professor at Hebrew University. Prof Ebstein then joined NUS as a Professor in 2010. Richard Ebstein’s research revolves around human behaviour genetics, with the overarching goal of providing molecular insights into the role of genes as a partial contributor to all facets of human behaviour. 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 behaviour and normal personality, autism, ADHD, eating disorders, and substance abuse. Prof Ebstein has published widely in leading academic journals such as The American Journal of Psychiatry, The Journal of Pain and the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

Ms. Tan Sze Ying, one of our clinical graduate students, featured in the news

September 22, 2014









Ms. Tan Sze Ying, a former full-time Teaching Assistant and currently one of our graduate students in the Clinical Psychology program, was recently featured in the news for her volunteer work with the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC). Well done, Sze Ying!

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