LIEW KONG MENG
I’m currently a PhD student in the Cognitive and Behavioural Science programme at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University. Before this, I completed my Bachelors’ degree in Music Composition at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, NUS, and my Masters’ in Research here at ADM. Coming from an interdisciplinary background, I’m interested in understanding how aesthetic experiences, such as watching a movie or listening to music, shape our feelings, thoughts and behaviour, and most of my research work is dedicated to that.
Masters thesis title
Meaningful Noise: Auditory Roughness and Dissonance Predict Emotion Recognition and Cross-Modal Perception
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m working on a couple of research projects as part of my PhD- I’m running a multinational study looking at how cultural thought patterns, such as holistic or analytic thinking styles, influence the way music contributes to our overall well-being. I’m also developing a Japanese version of the Aesthetic Emotions Scale, which aims to measure and sort the emotions one feels during an aesthetic experience, which could be from activities such as appreciating art, watching a movie, or simply listening to music. Finally, I’m also researching the neurobiological foundations of emotions, by studying brain activity during movie-watching.
What was it that attracted you to the ADM when you applied?
There were a number of reasons - the beautiful campus, the diverse facilities, but I’d say the deciding factor was being able to work with my then-supervisor, Dr. PerMagnus Lindborg, as we had several overlapping interests and really hit it off.
What’s the best thing about studying at the ADM?
Again, so many great things! If I had to give just one thing, it’s definitely the freedom to research what I wanted to research. Having just come out of an undergraduate programme in music, I was lost as to what to do, how to do it, and even what it meant to do research. Thankfully, the faculty at ADM were all patient and supportive, and I was always given the freedom to try out new ideas or explore new areas, even if they were outside the traditional research domains at ADM. I was also encouraged to have a co-supervisor from outside of ADM, Dr. Suzy Styles from the School of Social Sciences, who helped tremendously in the interdisciplinary research that I was doing. Over the course of the MA programme, as I gradually stumbled my way along researching all sorts of strange perceptual phenomenon, the environment at ADM was always conducive and generous, be it with logistical support from facilities or equipment, to simply having many opportunities to bounce ideas off faculty and peers.
What’s been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
It would have to be my final research project at ADM, which was also my most ambitious project - I had planned out a new composition to be performed at a concert of electroacoustic music, and as the culmination of the research I had been doing thus far, combined art and science in performing dual roles: as a creative expression of art, and also as a perceptual experiment. The premiere was a success and the results of that experiment were published in Frontiers in Psychology, a major peer-reviewed psychology journal. Personally, it marked the intersection of where I had come as a composer and where I was headed as a researcher, and it would not have been possible without the support given by ADM in terms of advice and technical assistance.
Do you have any advice for current or future students?
Find a supervisor that can help you grow. I’ve been blessed to be able to work with fantastic supervisors, and they have played an instrumental role in helping me grow as a researcher. Sometimes the advice can be a little confusing, but there’s much to be learnt by understanding where they’re coming from.