Early Career Researcher News

EPS Poster Prize Interview – Bryony Payne

Bryony Payne won the EPS Student Poster Prize at the January 2020 EPS Meeting in London. She is currently undertaking her PhD in the VoCoLab at UCL under the supervision of Carolyn McGettigan, exploring whether we can integrate a new voice into our self-concept. She is enjoying all of the new opportunities that come with the PhD: she’s just submitted her first journal paper, is teaching on a Neurolinguistics module, and is looking forward to running her first fMRI study soon.

Why did you become an experimental psychologist?

I actually started in linguistics and have always been interested in how what we say with language, and how we say it through our voice, is connected to our self-identity. I realised I couldn’t fully explore the connections between voice, language, and the self with theory alone, and wanted to use a more scientific and empirical approach. This led me to the field of experimental psychology and an MSc in neuroscience and linguistics. Learning about some of the neurological underpinnings of these concepts was essential before I could ask further questions about how they are all connected. There are so many questions to explore about how the self is expressed through our voice and, conversely, about how our ability to use our voice makes us who we are. I hope to continue investigating these topics as I am with my current PhD, using both behavioural and neurobiological methods.

What advice would you give to people presenting their first poster at an EPS meeting?

Although presenting your research for the first time can feel daunting, EPS provides a really friendly, supportive, and welcoming space. It’s a chance meet likeminded people who are all doing exciting research, and who are really willing and ready to engage in yours. Try to enjoy it; there’s so much to get from it!

How does your poster project fit into your current work or plans for the future?

My poster summarises the three behavioural experiments that I’ve my completed in the first year of my PhD. These studies show that we can come to associate a new voice with our ‘self’ and perceptually prioritise that voice after only very brief exposure. Overall, I am hoping to provide a behavioural and neurobiological investigation of how a new vocal identity can be integrated into the self. So, looking forward, I plan to support the current behavioural data with an fMRI study to show the neural correlates of the self-prioritisation effect we found in voices.

As an early career researcher, what did you get out of the EPS meeting you attended (apart from the prize!)?

The main thing that I got out of the meeting was confidence; a realisation that I can talk to people about my research and really enjoy doing it. It was great to meet lots of new people and put faces to the names of other researchers in my field. Our conversations sparked so many new ideas, interesting questions, and potential future collaborations. It’s really helpful to see how others respond to your research and it exposes you to ways of thinking about the wider topic that you might not previously have thought about.

How do you think the EPS could support you with your career plans or plans for projects in the future?

The EPS provides such a friendly and supportive space to share research and disseminate findings; I hope to attend many more meetings in the future. The travel grants are also a great resource for any early career researcher; they make it far more possible to connect with other researchers further afield and stay up to date with current developments.