New publication: Pitch & Pointiness

BLIP Lab research published last week shows that the language a person grows up hearing changes their sensory experience of the world. And it’s not just the sense of hearing – connections between the senses are also affected: When people who speak Mandarin Chinese listen to vowels “ee” and “oo” in the different tones of Chinese, they make different decisions about which sound should go with which shape – and some of their decisions are exactly the opposite to the decisions made by people who don’t speak any tone languages! You can find out more about this effect, and why we think it occurs in our our BLIP Bites – plain language mini research reports: The Point of Pitch.


Original Research article: Shang, N. and S. J. Styles (2017). “Is a high tone pointy? Degree of pitch-change in lexical tone predicts of sound-to-shape correspondences in Chinese bilinguals.” Frontiers 8(2139): 1. Open Access Link:


A New Project & Job Openings

We are proud to announce that the NRF has funded our newest project ‘How do language mixes contribute to the development of effective bilingualism and biliteracy in Singapore,’ for a 5-year-long programme of research. We will be working with families in Singapore to find out more about how parents communicate with their children in their different languages, what this means for the way that children’s sensory systems develop, and how this sets them up to be strong readers in the early school years.

We are hiring: 2 Post-docs, 2 Research associates, 4 Research assistants, and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding about that last one!). The job details are right here.

Working with Gusto!

BLIP Lab is pleased to announce its involvement in collaborative research with the GUSTO Project, Singapore’s most comprehensive longitudinal birth cohort.  Six years ago, the project called ‘Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) was launched to investigate links between maternal health during pregnancy, and babies’ outcomes. Now the children are all heading towards their sixth birthday, and the investigations continue. BLIP Lab’s work with the GUSTO team is investigating some of the relationships between different languages that children hear at home.

GUSTO Singapore

As part of our collaboration, we have also launched an investigation into how children in the GUSTO group link up the sounds of words to their possible meanings, using a fun game called Alien Zoo. In this game, children are visiting the Alien Zoo, when all of the friendly creatures have escaped, and become mixed up. Their job is to help the zookeepers sort  out which aliens are which, by guessing which ones make which noise, or have which name. This study will help us to understand how connections between the senses develop in children, and how these connections might relate to other skills that children will need in school.


If you would like to know more – or perhaps even try out the game yourself, you can find out more about it here, or via our GAMES page


What to look for in that Adele fMRI sing-a-long video

Researchers at Royal Holloway recently made the news by sharing a video of fMRI captured while someone sang along to an Adele song in the scanner.

The video is fantastic (follow the link above to watch). It shows how the mouth moves in order to produce different kinds of sounds. If you’re anything like we are, you’ll find yourself watching it endlessly.

We made a gif to help you know what to look out for while you are watching!


Sharing science with parents at Google

What a treat for BLIP Lab – an invitation to talk about the science of speech and language development with parents working at Google Singapore!

The talk broke down mysteries such as why it takes children so long to talk, what they are doing while they are waiting, and what kinds of information children need in order to learn language efficiently. The talk had a packed house – some people even sitting on the floor. Engaged parents asked lots of detailed questions at the end.


The visit on Monday included a tour of Google Singapore’s creatively designed workspaces in their high level offices at Asia Square. Did you know they even have a meeting room called ‘blur sotong’?

Conference in Cyprus

This September, BLIP Lab’s Suzy Styles traveled to Cyprus to participate in the ESCOP Conference (European Society for Cognitive Psychology). The venue near the beach was lovely, and the science was excellent.

Suzy gave a talk about mappings between the senses, where her experimental target was the vowel high-front rounded vowel /y/ (spelled “ü” in German and Pinyin).


The presentation was well received, with good engagement and questions from the audience. You can read the abstract here.

An academic offer…

Nora Congratulations Nora!
You might know BLIP Lab’s RA Nora Turoman from her Quiz on how many letters you can recognise from ancient or unfamiliar languages. Well, Nora has been offered a place on the highly competitive Masters in Psychological Research at the University of Oxford. Well done!
Nora plans to use her time at Oxford to hone her research skills, and focus on further studies in inter-sensory perception and syenaesthesia.

Vision Conference

In July, BLIP Lab attended a conference all about Vision – The Asia Pacific Conference on Vision. BLIP Lab PhD student Shang Nan presented a poster outlining her latest work on links between hearing and vision for people with different experience speaking the Chinese language (abstract). Asst Prof Suzy Styles gave a presentation about how people connect different kinds of visual shapes to the ‘voices’ of different instruments, and an invited talk about how different streams of evidence suggest that language development not only shapes auditory perception of the language itself, but also influences linkages between sight and sound. You can read the abstracts using the links below:

Shang N & Styles SJ (2015) ‘Language background changes audio-visual mapping of shapes-to-sounds,’ Poster presented at the Asia Pacific Conference on Vision, July 2015, Singapore.

Styles SJ (2015) ‘Giving shape to the voices of instruments: Audio-visual correspondences between spatial and temporal frequencies,’ Asia Pacific Conference on Vision, July 2015, Singapore.

Styles SJ (2015), ‘Perceptual tuning and its multisensory outcomes: Language adaptation influences crossmodal processing,’ Asia Pacific Conference on Vision, July 2015, Singapore.



Giving a taste of multisensory research

BLIP lab attended the International Multisensory Research Forum, held in Pisa, Italy in June. The program was great, with keynote speakers talking about such things as the involvement of the motor system in speech perception, and how to generate out of body experiences in the lab!


BLIP Lab’s Suzy Styles gave a talk about mutlisensory research involving speech sounds and the flavours of chocolate [Abstract]. PhD Student Shang Nan also presented the latest findings from her ongoing research into the multisensory perception of Mandarin vowels, in a poster.

The Conference finished off with the Luminara, Pisa’s annual Festival of Lights, which was a wonderful conclusion to the illuminating science at the meeting.

It’s symposium time! SI15: sound~senses

BLIP Lab is proud to be involved in an exciting upcoming symposium which brings the arts and the sciences together. If you are an artist, sound designer, sonic engineer, or researcher into acoustic perception, you should think about submitting to take part in this unique event in Singapore!

More information


The 2nd International Symposium for Sound and Interactivity is an interdisciplinary symposium bringing together the science and art of sound. This unique event will showcase creative and scientific explorations into sound and interactivity, with a dynamic program of performances, installations and presentations of scientific research. This year’s theme is sound:senses, and welcomes projects bridging multisensory integration, cross-modal processing of sound, immersive sensory experience, and interactive work.

Psychologists, neuroscientists, artists, performers, and workers in the sonic arena are invited to submit.