We're delighted to announce that Ayesha "Shah" Moore was selected for the British Neuropsychological Society's Undergraduate Project Prize 2021. The Undergraduate Prize is open to all UK final year undergraduates taking a single or joint honours psychology degree that is accredited by the British Psychological Society.
Supervised by Kate Watkins, Shah’s project explored the mental representations of colour words and spatial prepositions in sighted individuals and those who were blind since birth. Participants were asked to judge how dissimilar pairs of words were on a scale of 1 – 9. For example, sighted people would say that red and blue were more dissimilar than red and orange, but what would people who lacked visual experience of colour say? The results indicate that in people who lack visual experience of colour and space, these concepts are organised differently. Nevertheless, a personal interest in such concepts and learning from sensory metaphor can create rich mental representations.
The BNS Committee extended high praise for Shah's work: "We thoroughly enjoyed reading this outstanding report. The candidate did an excellent job of combining complex quantitative and qualitative approaches. The conclusions were well-justified and grounded in previous literature and it is clear that the candidate made significant original contributions to the work – in particular, the spatial prepositions experiment was an impressive, major contribution. We were also impressed by their resourcefulness by conducting all of this work in the context of COVID-19. It is difficult to give much extra in the way of feedback because it was such an impressive report, but they are a very worthy winner of the Prize and clearly have a very bright research career ahead."
Talking with the blind communities on social media during the recruitment phase really demonstrated how much people care about new insights and scientific investigation, especially from the perspective of a paper comparing blind with sighted individuals' experiences. As a part of that community, I was eager to do them justice in that regard.
As a fresh graduate eager to pursue a doctorate and future career in cognitive neuroscience, it is a huge honour and privilege for our project to be recognised by the BNS. Thank you to all involved.