For the first time ever, a Filipina bagged the prestigious William James Prize by the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (SPP) in the United States.
Since holding its inaugural meeting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974, the SPP conference has brought together the world's biggest scientists, philosophers, and psychologists who produce studies that contribute to cognitive science.
The recipient of the award is Joan Ongchoco, a Filipina PhD candidate of Yale University who worked on her research called “Figments of imagination: Scaffolded attention creates non-sensory object and event representations”.
In a dialogue with Tatler Philippines, Ongchoco described what she has been working on in the past few years. "Think: a regular grid pattern such as what you might find on a piece of graph paper, or the tiles on your bathroom floor. What do you see? In many ways, this may be incredibly simple stimuli -- there's nothing there but the squares. But this is precisely why it's even more curious that many people report seeing all sorts of more complex shapes and patterns beyond the individual squares themselves (say, horizontal or diagonal lines, or even block-letters or shapes)," she shared.
"This is true not just for regular squares, but also for regular beats. We’ve found that when listening to a regular sequence of tones or beats, many people also hear all sorts of more complex rhythms. These are effective 'hallucinations', but unlike how we typically think of hallucinations (as those occurring only in clinical contexts), these occur in everyday settings and can be experienced by many people," she further explained.
According to Ongchoco, her study seeks to delve deeper into the creativity and powerful imagination of the human mind. "Unlike how we typically think of hallucinations (as those occurring only in clinical contexts), these occur in everyday settings and can be experienced by many people. This is what I am interested in: where does this active imagination come from?"