Among the top psychological research entries from the respective Universities and Institutes in Singapore, the NUS Department of Psychology is proud to have won the overall Best Undergraduate Research Award conferred by the Singapore Psychological Society (SPS) this year. This Award recognizes the top psychological research of the year accomplished by an undergraduate student, and can be withheld unless there is a deserving candidate. Mr. Soh Wei Jie, who recently graduated from the NUS Department of Psychology with First-Class Honours, pursued his undergraduate thesis research under the supervision of Dr. Lim Wee Hun Stephen, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychology who has won multiple awards for excellent teaching and student research supervision. Mr. Soh’s thesis research emerged as the best among all 83 Honours Theses received and examined by the NUS Psychology Department in the 2011-12 academic year, and was subsequently nominated for the 2012 SPS Undergraduate Research Award.
The winning work is entitled “Hear No Evil: Can Music Attenuate the Irrelevant Speech Effect?”. Dr. Lim commented, “Many students listen to music while they study. We believe that this phenomenon transcends preferences towards learning styles, so that the benefits reaped from music listening during study actually have a very fundamental (biological) basis. Our goal was to show that music helps to consolidate cognitive resources that will in turn boost learning. Imagine the following scenario: In a noisy environment that is highly distracting, music creates this “transparent room”; when you step in (and close the door behind you), the distractors surround the room, remain visible (or rather, audible) and intelligible, are in fact processed, but they can no longer stifle you. Importantly, we think that it is the “music-ness” in music that creates this fascinating effect (which is why students listen to “music” in the first place). Through this work, we also hope to understand at least in part just what exactly constitutes “music”, a long-standing philosophical question that continues to fascinate scholars across a variety of fields.”
Our heartiest congratulations to Mr. Soh and Dr. Lim on winning this Award!