Tag Archives: Bea Guce



Imagine. You’re inside your car, radio is on playing some random music. Suddenly you hear this unfamiliar song that you find interesting and you want to download it later into your mp3 player. Problem is the dj didn’t metion the title of the song at the beginning. Now what will you do?

For someone like me, I try to identify some lines in the the song and then Google it afterwards. This works, when the lyrics are clearly enunciated. But this strategy fails especially when the singer has a different accent, mumbles the lyrics, or sings from a skyscraper with volume barely above a whisper (Google: Skyscraper lyrics). This makes wish the radio has a replay button then hopelessly cry out, “ANSABE?”


Aside from the voice quality, other characteristics influence effective and accurate perception of speech or musical lyrics.  One factor, which radios lack, is the corresponding visual stimulation. Facial expression, movement of the lips and hand gestures that are visually perceived, do not only enhance music appreciation, but also improves understanding of the lyrics. Particularly, lip reading has been found to significantly affect perception of musical lyrics.

A study conducted by Miguel Hidalgo-Barnes and Dominic W. Massaro(2007) has looked into  the effect of seeing a corresponding face in improving understanding of sung words.  For this study, they used phrases from the song “The Pressman” sung by a band called Primus. This particular song was chosen in order to prevent familiarity to the song from affecting the participants’ performance. By using a speech alignment program, the researchers were able to transform text and wave file into a computer animated face, which they prEach participant were subjected to three presentation conditions. .One involved purely auditory stimuli, wherein the participant hears the sound of the lyrics. The second condition involved visual stimuli.  For this, participants were presented with the previously aligned animated face mouthing the lyrics.  The last condition had the stimuli presented in both modes, auditory and visual. The participants task was to encode the lyrics they were able to understand and their performance was assessed by identifying the proportion of accurate words.

Results showed that word comprehension was significantly improved through bimodal presentation. 28% and 4% was the proportion of understood words in the auditory and visual lyrics, respectively. On the other hand, 33% of the words were understood when both the animated face was seen and the sound was heard. Indeed, visual information, particularly the singer’s face, improves perception of musical lyrics.

How then can we utilize these findings? For one, the music industry can take advantage of this information. To make sure the market can understand and perceive their songs’ lyrics, they may find live performances an effective way in expanding their fan base. Therefore, reaping all the big bucks. *Ka-ching ka-ching* For those who value their art more than its monetary equivalent, they may find this knowledge as a way to better share their craft to the people who truly appreciate- those who just find themselves crying while watching and listening to the live performances of their favorite artists in Youtube. The visual information provided by their face, does not only improve understanding of the words. Visual input also helps in expressing the emotions of the song and enabling the audience to relate better- as if those “hit-home-lines” aren’t enough.

With this, I leave you a clip of one of those artists that automatically sense up my lacrimal glands. You will never utter “Ansabe?” with Adele playing on loop.


Hidalgo-Barnes, M., & Massaro, D. W. (2007). Read my lips: An animated face helps communicate musical lyrics. Psychomusicology, 19, 3-12.


Fragrances That Make Scents


I don’t stick to one. I like novelty and being with just “the one” for a long time would tire and get me uninterested. On the average, it takes me just a month or two to go looking for a new one that would be enough stimulate my senses. Loyalty? Not my thing.

Before you think negatively of me and the quality of relationships I have, I want to make it clear that I was just talking about my preferences for shower gels. (Last time I’ve checked, there’s no psychological study relating shower gels and interpersonal relationships!) Yes, I don’t always use the same brand of shower gels. Usually, after consuming one bottle of a specific brand, I would go sniff bottles in the grocery with scents different from the previous one I had. The fragrance would be the first thing I check and the deciding factor in purchasing that specific brand. My current bottle has a coconut aroma to it. I also had brief but blissful experiences with aloe, vanilla, milk and oatmeal. I prefer these fragrances because they keep me feeling fresh all day, as if I just came out of the shower. For me, these shower gels are more than just cleansing agents but they can also effectively set and enhance my mood for the day.

My current scent: Coconut cream!

This type of reasoning for my vanity, in that a specific fragrance has mood altering effects, is congruent to the findings of a study done by Field and colleagues(2005). In their study, they have showed that a specific cosmetic scent, lavender, enhances relaxation. Through the use of both physiological and self-report measures, they have assessed the scent’s apparent effects.

The self-report measures administered involved scales that measure temporary anxiety levels (STAI), depressed mood states (POMS), and feelings of tension and alertness (visual analogue scale). Aside from these, the participants also performed math computations that test their speed and accuracy. The participants’ responses and scores before and after fragrance presentation were then compared. Physiological measures employed were EEG and EKG. Through these two, physiological responses were recorded before, during and after being presented with the shower gel.

Lavender scent can induce relaxation

The results of the tests supported the hypothesis that the scent does affect transient mood. The participants reported increased relaxation and decreased anxiety and depressed mood. The same results were also observed for the physiological measures. Decreased heart rate and activation of left frontal area associated with less depressed affect and greater approach behavior were determined through the EEG and EKG respectively. The performance on the math computation (i.e. improved time record) were also correlated with the experience of enhanced relaxation. Together, these results suggest that the lavender scent can induce relaxation and improve the mood of a perceiver.

It is interesting how we can have such great control over our mood experiences and yet there are times that we can’t help but lose our temper. Knowing these findings can make us better equipped for the next fit that we’ll have when things won’t go our way.


Also, this study got me interested to the other scents that may affect one’s mood. We might be encountering cinnamon and peppermint perfumes and body sprays in our local grocery stores soon as these scents were found to increase perceived alertness, decreased temporal demand and decreased frustration in driving scenarios( Raudenbush et al, 2009). Chemists and perfumer may also explore and breakdown the chemical components of sweat for this particular scent from male perspiration was actually found to affect the mood, brain activity and levels of sexual arousal of women (“The joys”, 2007). Another study, which I find very timely, found that certain fragrances increases the dancing activity and enjoyment in nightclubs. I wonder what scents I would be smelling tonight in Ignite: UP PUGAD Sayk’s Adhoc event at Fiamma.

Will ensnare my sense of smell in Ignite tonight! http://www.facebook.com/PugadADHOC

These are just some of the documented scents that have mood altering effects. With the variety of odorants that we can perceive, there may still be other scents out there that induce the same effects. And for this, scents and their effects are definitely scent-sational!

Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Cisneros, W., Feijo, L., Vera, Y., & … Claire He, Q. (2005). Lavender Fragrance Cleansing Gel Effects on Relaxation. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(2), 207-222. doi:10.1080/00207450590519175

Raudenbush, B., Grayhem, R., Sears, T., & Wilson, I. (2009). Effects of Peppermint and Cinnamon Odor Administration on Simulated Driving Alertness, Mood and Workload. North American Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 245-256.

The joys of sweating. (2007). Journal of Assisted Reproduction & Genetics, 24(5), 151. doi:10.1007/s10815-007-9117-x

Blinded By the Stars and Killed By the Killer Smile


I would like to assume that last year, 2010, was the year when celebrities in our local scene have earned their highest income in their career so far. No, it wasn’t because more movies were screened or more albums were released during that time. The buzz last year, in fact, had nothing to do with their acting prowess or their entertaining skills. What was utilized in them was their popularity to attract the attention of  the public, but for what? Let these commercial ads tell you the answer.



Yes, you got that right! The political marketing arena last year was bombarded with ads of Dolphy, Manny Pacquiao, and  Marian Rivera, among others. They posed with the pogi or laban sign while flashing their pearly white teeth to influence the opinions and behaviors of the members of the voting public. Through their fame, they aimed to increase their candidate’s chances of winning last year’s elections. We already know what the outcome was. With the polls and the actual election results, we had the idea who got the most influential and popular celebrities in their side (and possibly, the idea who shelled out more bills to get these highly-paid artists).

Hoping that the Filipinos were more rational and critical in their choices, I would like to believe that the celebrities’ fame alone did not seal the deal for the winning candidates. Still, Regine Velasquez, Bitoy, Sarah Geronimo and the likes are now finding a lucrative career in this arena of political endorsement. This makes me think, to what extent are celebrity endorsements effective in creating impact in the political sphere?

A study by Veer, Becirovic and Martin in 2010 tried to provide the answer to this question. The missing link between celebrity endorsers and their impacts on the public seems to be the attitude of the the voters themselves on politics or what is referred to as political salience. This construct represents how involved and interested the voters are on politics and political issues.

Can David Beckham score the goal for his endorsed political party? I can hear a yes from the low political salience voters AND all the ladies out there!

In their study, the researchers created ads with both celebrity and non-celebrity endorsers. A short list of celebrities was created based on the results of a pretest that rated their likelihood of appearing in a campaign ad. The celebrities that appeared in their ads include Kate Winslet, Lily Allen, Helen Mirren, David Beckham, James Blunt, and Anthony Hopkins. Along with their photos is the slogan “I vote Conservative, do you?”. The researchers presented these ads to their participants who were primed on two salience conditions- either high or low. The political salience manipulation was done by letting them read articles with and without political themes. They then collected written responses regarding their participants’ attitudes towards the ads, endorser and political party and their voting intentions.

Their results show that celebrity endorsers’ effects on attitude and voting intention are significantly mediated by political salience. This means that the charms of celebrities work for people who are not stimulated with politics- those who come to the voting precincts without even doing their research on the candidates. Thankfully, the celebrity magic does not work for all, particularly to those who are engaged with politics and who actively think of political issues. The results also show that celebrities alone, sans the political salience variable, do not have a significant difference with non-celebrity endorsers in terms of affecting the voting public.

Their findings are truly relevant especially to us who have the power to elect (and remove) people in government positions. We should be warned of the dangers of certain types of voters who are easily influenced by some showbiz personality. If we isolate ourselves from political issues and even current events, we run the risk of being swayed simply by the  killer smile, charms and popularity of endorsers. As part of the eligible voters, we must do our part in scrutinizing the “hopefuls”. We are not just simply choosing between consumer products or brands that celebrities typically endorse.  We are determining a far more important course and that is the future of our nation. That killer smile can literally kill our country’s progress if we remain passive, easily blinded by the “stars”.


Ekant, Veer, Becirovic, Ilda, & Martin, Brett (2010) If Kate voted conservative would you? The role of
celebrity endorsements in political party advertising. European Journal of Marketing, 44(3/4), pp.

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Earphones as your jogging buddy


In my first years in the University, I have experienced and proven for myself that the freshman 15 exists. Freshman 15 was the term to refer to the phenomenon experienced by students in their first years in college wherein they gain weight. From having a bony and slim face back in high school, my cheeks became chubbier and fuller in just my first semester in uni. I’ve also added an extra 5 kilos. It didn’t help that my university was a food haven and food tripping can be done any time of the day.  Aside from being a food destination where one can easily gain weight and add an extra flab with the different not-so-healthy-but-heck-it’s-so-good food choices, the  university is also frequently visited by those from the opposite side of the continuum- the health conscious. Being open to the public, joggers from all walks of life come to the academic oval to sweat out their week’s weight gain and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

If Papa Piolo would be my jogging buddy, I am willing to jog all day!

Joggers and runners have become a common sight in the university and they have become part of its culture already. People from different background- students, working professionals and even celebrities-  jog, run, walk  and trot along the 2.2- kilometer oval. They do their thing in their own comfortable pace and number of rounds. As someone who jogs in her free time still trying to get rid of the freshman 15, it is also interesting to observe the jogging related fashion of other joggers. Others jog in their singlets with the name of the fun runs they’ve been to while there are those who simply prefer to be in regular  t-shirts. Others wear their matching outfits with either three stripes or a swoosh. Along with these gears that are necessary for jogging, a common accessory of these joggers are their earphones blasting  their workout playlist. This makes me wonder what those earphones are for- are they simply a jogging- related fashion statement?

Apparently, they are more than just that. The music coming from these earphones affect the exercise performance of individuals. That is according to a study by Edworthy and Waring (2006). The two investigated the effects of tempo, loudness and presence of background music on running speed, heart rate, and affect.

The speed and loudness of the music from the woman's earphones affect her running speed, heart rate and affect.

In their study, they asked their volunteers to perform 5 10-min workout sessions on a treadmill while listening to 4 different music conditions- fast/loud, fast/quiet, slow/loud, slow/quiet- and a control which is the no music condition. They monitored the exercise performance and subjective parameters of the participants and compared them across the five different conditions.

Their results showed that the speed of the music has the most effect on the speed and heart rate of the participants: faster tempo results to faster speed and heart rate. It was also observed that the temp0 and the volume have an interacting effect on performance but the volume alone does not have an effect. That is, if fast music is played loudly, the speed and heart rate of the participant increases. However, this effect does not apply to slow music. The study also showed that music has an effect on the affect of the participant. Participants enjoyed the activity more when they were listening to a background music- in whatever tempo or volume- than when they were not.

The difference in the effect of tempo and volume may be attributed to the nature of the task. Running and jogging are said to have a synchronous nature. Because of this, runners and joggers try to pace themselves in tune with the music they’re listening to. Loudness on the other hand, was said to have an effect more on asynchronous task but not so much on something like running.

This study has very promising findings that can be applied and used by joggers, runners and even those who despise working out (those who’d rather be in the isaw and fishball stalls around the campus than sweat out in the acad oval). Runners can use music to their advantage to help them pace themselves and achieve their target speed for their next fun run. With music, amateurs can now also enjoy working out as much as they enjoy eating. Hopefully, the university will now be  more than just a food destination for them but also a venue for their daily workout and healthier lifestyle.


Eworthy, J. & Waring, H. (2006). The effects of music, tempo and loudness level on treadmill exercise. Ergonomics, 49(15), 1597-1610.

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Taste with Your Ears


In watching too much cooking shows, the likes of Master Chef and Top Chef, I’ve grown accustomed to the style and techniques those chefs perform to perfect their dish and save them from the cut. One thing I’ve noticed from them, is that in cooking, it’s not just the taste or the aroma that matters. Aside from adding in the necessary herbs, spices, and other seasoning, they make sure that the colors pop and that the texture complements the dish. They do all these to enhance its taste. Through their food, they try to win over the gustatory, olfactory, visual and tactile senses of those meticulous chef judges.

Top Chefs adding taste, aroma, color and texture to their dish

Just like those judges, all those senses are activated whenever I am savoring my food. For a food enthusiast like me, I appreciate those dishes which are neatly presented with nicely contrasting colors. I also enjoy those food that perfectly stimulate the walls of my mouth with its crispy and crunchy texture. Of course, its taste and aroma are what sells me out to the food. For me, all these qualities affect my eating experience. But are they the only things that affect my perception and appreciation of the food? Is sound not a factor in all these?

Apparently, sound does play a part in our food perception as explained by Woods and his colleagues (Woods et al, 2011).  In their study, Woods et al have designed two experiments to assess the effects of background noise on the perception of food saltiness and sweetness, food crunchiness and food liking.

How does that strawberry sound..err taste like?

In the first experiment, participants were asked to assess a foodstuff, that is either crunchy or soft,   in terms of sweetness, saltiness and liking while subjected to quiet and loud background noise. For the second experiment, the same procedure was done but slightly modified by asking the participants to report the crunchiness of the food, aside from its perceived flavorsomeness and liking. Also, the relationship between the liking of the background noise and the liking of the food was determined.

From the two sets of experiments, three different effects of noise on food perception was observed. First, noise decreases the perceived intensity of food attributes. Relative to quiet background noise, the reported sweetness and saltiness of the food are reduced while listening to loud background noise. Noise was also found to enhance the intensity of sound-mediated food cues. With noise on the background, food was perceived more as crunchy. Lastly, the liking of the noise was found to be correlated with the liking of the food.

These findings have solidified how much food experience involves a crossmodal perception. All our senses, from the sense of taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing, interact to affect our perception of the food that we take in.

This study has given me an idea on how I can modify and enhance my food experience. The next time I eat my favorite herb marinated chicken, I’m thinking of reducing the volume of the radio next to me for me to be able to savor the real tang of rosemary, thyme and sage. This would also prevent me from going overboard by sprinkling in more salt to my already tasty dish. Or maybe I can listen to that song that’s always on loop in my mp3 player while savoring my food. Speaking of, maybe you would also like to hit that play button below while you munch on your favorite dish.

Hope you’ll enjoy your food more!


Wood, A.T., Poliakoff, E., Lloyd, D.M., Kuenzel, J., Hodson, R., Gonda, H., Batchelor, J., Dijksterhuis, G.B., & Thomas, A. (2011). Effect of background noise on food perception. Food Quality and Preference, 22, 44-47.