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


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.

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