Dr Tomasina Oh
Profiles

Dr Tomasina Oh

Associate Professor - Dementia Care Programme Lead (Research)

Peninsula Medical School (Faculty of Health: Medicine, Dentistry and Human Sciences)

Role

Associate Professor and Dementia Care Programme Lead (D-PACT)

Qualifications

PhD (Experimental Psychology), University of Cambridge 

MPhil (Linguistics), University of Cambridge

B.A. Hons (English Language & Linguistics), Universiti Sains Malaysia 

Professional membership

British Association of Applied Linguistics

British Psychological Society, Chartered Psychologist

Division for Teachers and Researchers in Psychology


Teaching interests

I have taught undergraduates and postgraduates in the following areas:

Psycholinguistics/Advanced Psycholinguistics

Child Language Acquisition

Introduction to the Neurocognition of Language 

Introductory Linguistics 

Linguistics Frameworks (for Speech & Language Pathology) 

Bilingualism


Research interests

My research focuses on performance, and asks which mental processes and neural regions underlie proficient performance. More specifically, I am interested in: 

  • the speech, language and communication (SLC) performance of monolinguals and multilinguals, 
  • the effect of brain disease, brain injury or atypical development on SLC performance, 
  • the light that SLC breakdown can shed on healthy cognitive and neural processes, and 
  • whether changes in SLC can help in early detection of diseases affecting the brain.

I study both healthy and atypical populations, using a range of methods including behavioural experiments, neuropsychological tests and fMRI brain imaging techniques. My doctoral research focused on characterizing SLC impairments in schizophrenia and how cognitive decline influences performance. This work led to collaborations examining the effects of IQ on neural function, and how previously reported neural abnormalities might be the result of cognitive decline rather than disease. 

My research then expanded to include the bilingual brain, using fMRI. Initially, I examined the role of the striatal and hippocampal systems underlying language function in monolingual young adults. This laid the foundation for the bilingual project (2005-8) investigating how age, proficiency and language learning mode affect second language (L2) performance and neural representation.

One of my doctoral students is studying cognitive and language switching in bilinguals, which also relates to my interest in the question of whether the mental exercise associated with being bilingual leads to a cognitive advantage, neuroprotection or both. I am currently embarking on a line of enquiry that revisits questions I asked in my own doctoral work on schizophrenia: 

  • What can SLC impairments can tell us about language in the healthy brain? 
  • Are there SLC changes specific to different brain diseases (including those affecting mental health) which can help us detect these diseases earlier? 

This work requires reliable assessment of SLC performance in both monolingual and bilingual populations. Another of my PhD students is currently working on a better way to assess and identify children with Developmental Language Disorder. My interest in performance extends beyond language function too. Previous and current collaborations include projects examining: (1) the striatal and hippocampal systems underlying non-language tasks in the ageing brain, and (2) the effects of mental vs. physical exercise on cognition, and how these different kinds of exercise augment performance. 


Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Lim Li Koon, Reading processes in biscriptal children in Singapore

Masnidah Masnawi, Imageability and verb-noun naming in Aphasia: Can the effect of grammatical class be reduced to differences in imageability?

Philina Ng, Fusiform gyrus: Investigation of visual word recognition in the bilingual brain

Seng Su Lin, Bilingual language control and switching

Current

Fitzpatrick, N. Language switching and cognitive reserve in multilinguals with and without language impairment 

Waine, H. Functional grammatical development in children with Developmental Language Disorder

Grants & contracts

2012 – 2015 Managing Two Languages: Language Control in Healthy Vs. Brain Damaged Bilinguals (PI;S$40,000) 

2008 – 2009 The Role Of Declarative And Procedural Memory In Bilingual Speakers (PI; S$20,000)

2006 – 2008 Adult Reading Test to Estimate the Pre-Morbid IQ of Patients with Schizophrenia (Co-PI; S$12,000)

2005 – 2008 Language in the Bilingual Brain: Comparing Healthy and Aphasic Chinese-English Bilinguals (PI; S$86,236)


Books

McKenna, PJ. and TM Oh. (2005). Schizophrenic Speech: Making Sense of Bathroots and Ponds that Fall in Doorways. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Key publications are highlighted

Journals

Oh TM., Graham S., Ng P., Yeh IB, Chan BPL and Edwards AM (2019). Age and Proficiency in the Bilingual Brain Revisited: Activation Patterns Across Different L2-Learner Types. Front. Commun. 4:39. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2019.00039

Graham, S., Oh, TM., Manning, V., Kang, S., Yeh, I.B. & McKenna, P. (2019). Brain activity differences between schizophrenia patients and healthy controls – Schizophrenia or IQ related? European Science Journal 15 (22).

Oh, TM., KL Tan, P Ng, IB Yeh & S Graham. (2011) “The Past Tense Debate: Is Phonological Complexity the Key to the Puzzle?” NeuroImage, 57, 271-280. 

Graham, S., E Phua, CS Soon, TM Oh, C Au, B Shuter, SC Wang and BY Ing, (2009). "Role of medial cortical, hippocampal and striatal interactions during cognitive set-shifting". NeuroImage, 45: 1359-67. 

Pomarol-Clotet, E., TM Oh, K Laws and PJ McKenna. (2008). Semantic Priming in Schizophrenia: A Meta-Analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 192: 92-97. 

Kircher, TJ., TM Oh, MJ Brammer, and PK McGuire. (2005). Neural correlates of syntax production in schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 186: 209-214

Oh, TM. (2003). “Language abnormalities in schizophrenia: A Linguist’s Perspective”. In Hajar A. Rahim and Shakila A. Manan (eds.) Issues in Linguistics and English Language Teaching. USM Press: Penang.

Oh, TM., RA McCarthy, & PJ McKenna. (2002). Is there a schizophasia? A study applying the single case approach to formal thought disorder in schizophrenia. Neurocase, 8(3):233-44. 

Nolan, F. & TM Oh. (1996). "Identical twins, different voices". Forensic Linguistics 3 (1): 39-49.


Chapters

Oh, TM. (2014). “The Declarative Procedural Model of Language: A new framework for studying the non-inflecting languages of Southeast Asia?” In Heather Winskel and Prakash Paddakannaya (eds.) South and Southeast Asian Psycholinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Additional information

Previous universities worked at

Plymouth Marjon University (Jan 2016 - May 2019)

National University of Singapore (May 2002 - Dec 2015)

Universiti Sains Malaysia (July 1999 - Apr 2002)

Previous roles

Associate Dean for Research (Plymouth Marjon University)

Head of Department (English & Language Sciences, Plymouth Marjon Unversity)

Chair of University Research Ethics (Plymouth Marjon University)

Graduate Chair (Department of English Language & Literature, National University of Singaopre)

Chair of Department Research Ethics (Department of English Language & Literature, National University of Singapore)