PENNEY Trevor Bruce

Research Projects

  • The Impact of Shift, Circadian Typology, Disturbed Sleep, and Bright Light Exposure on Sleepiness and Vigilance in Hong Kong Taxi Drivers
  • CHAN Kwan Shing Darius, PENNEY Trevor Bruce, LO June C. Y.
    1 December 2004
    CUHK Research Committee Funding (Direct Grants)

    Sleepiness is a common problem among professional drivers, and its detrimental effect on vigilance and driving performance is well documented. However, this important health problem has not been studied in Hong Kong. The purposes of this study are to (1) examine how the sleepiness level and vigilance performance of taxi drivers vary within one shift and whether these changes are greater among daytime or nighttime drivers, (2) investigate whether matching taxi drivers' shift with their circadian typology (morning vs. evening type) will contribute to better shiftwork adaptation, and (3) determine whether exposure to therapeutic bright light can improve nighttime taxi drivers' sleep quality and quantity, alleviate their sleepiness, and improve their vigilance performance, and whether these changes are greater among morning type or evening type drivers. (SS04434)

  • Is Language Processing Cognitively Encapsulated? A Brain Imaging Analysis of Tonal and Non-tonal Languages
  • PENNEY Trevor Bruce, Besson Mireille*, Schon Danielle*
    5 February 2001
    France/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme

    The question of whether the computations performed by the brain to process language are specific to language or whether they rely on more general cognitive principles is unresolved. While the claim for specificity is central to some linguistic theories, such as the generative grammar developed by Chomsky and followers (1) other linguistic theories, such as the cognitive grammars developed by Lakoff and others (2) assume that language is a cognitive function that shares the same functional and organisational principles as other cognitive functions, such as music processing.
    The research proposed here takes a first step toward addressing the general problem of the specificity of language processing by asking two, complementary, experimental questions. First, the researchers want to elucidate the neurophysiological basis of musical consonance. That is to say, they want to determine why two notes played simultaneously can sound pleasant or unpleasant. Second, they want to examine the neurophysiological basis of prosody, i.e. the melodic contour of the voice, and the way it is implemented in the brains of speakers of tonal and non-tonal languages. Specifically, the researchers want to determine if the brain's response to semantically congruent and incongruent sentences is modulated by whether or not the sentences are prosodically congruent. The answers to these two questions will lay the necessary groundwork for future experiments directed at legislating between the specificity and generality models of language function. (SS20013)

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