Dr Tomasina Oh
Associate Professor - Dementia Care Programme Lead (Research)
Peninsula Medical School (Faculty of Health)
- Health services
- Experimental methods
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire.
Associate Professor and Dementia Care Programme Lead (D-PACT); NIHR PenARC Dementia Fellow
PhD (Experimental Psychology), University of Cambridge
MPhil (Linguistics), University of Cambridge
B.A. Hons (English Language & Linguistics), Universiti Sains Malaysia
British Association of Applied Linguistics
British Psychological Society, Chartered Psychologist
Division for Teachers and Researchers in Psychology
Roles on external bodies
Lay member, HRA Cornwall & Plymouth Research Ethics Committee
2021 cohort, Foundation Future Leaders Programme (Foundation for Science and Technology)
I have taught undergraduates and postgraduates in the following areas:
Child Language Acquisition
Introduction to the Neurocognition of Language
Linguistics Frameworks (for Speech & Language Pathology)
Early and previous research: My doctoral research focused on characterizing speech, language and communication (SLC) difficulties in individuals with schizophrenia. Using the cognitive neuropsychological case study approach, I compared the SLC of those with the symptom formal thought disorder to those without in order to understand which difficulties were specific to the symptom, which were part of the general picture of schizophrenia and which were simply a reflection of generalised cognitive decline (Oh et al., 2002; McKenna & Oh, 2005; Kircher, Oh, et al., 2005; Pomarol-Clotet, Oh, et al., 2008). This work led to collaborations examining the effects of IQ on neural function, and how some previously reported neural abnormalities in schizophrenia might be the result of cognitive decline rather than disease (Graham, Oh, et al., 2019).
Moving back to Southeast Asia from England in 1999 created challenges for the research I had been conducting up to this point. No longer was my research population made up of monolinguals whose first language was English. Instead I was working with individuals who were at least bilingual and for whom English was not a first language or who spoke a different variety of English. Although I continued to develop the work from my PhD these challenges turned out to be opportunities to broaden my research and methods too because they pushed me to think about how best to adapt and conduct my research. As part of that I was able to address some of the questions that other researchers on bilingualism were asking as well. These questions included (i) how age, proficiency and the way one learns a language affect second language performance and neural representation (Oh et al., 2019); (ii) how striatal and hippocampal systems underlie language function (Oh et al., 2011); (iii) whether being bilingual leads to a cognitive advantage (research conducted by my PhD student Su Lin Seng; completed)
Current research: My early work was more concerned with basic (rather than applied) research questions, and employed an experimental and hypothesis-driven approach. My current role as Programme Lead for the Dementia PersonAlised Care Team (D-PACT) project has created the opportunity to make a shift to more applied research. Through D-PACT I have been able to observe and learn new approaches and methods alongside managing the research. D-PACT aims to examine whether a dementia support worker based in primary care can help to improve physical healthcare, mental wellbeing and health-related quality of life for people with dementia and their carers. Anticipatory care is a crucial part of this, with the aim being to reduce unplanned acute illness and admissions (and associated costs and pressures on the health system) as well as distress for the individual and their families. Another important aspect of this work is being sensitive to the language and communication changes that happen as part of dementia. In the feasibility stage of the project we developed and tested the intervention (presence of a support worker vs. usual care) and addressed questions relevant to the trial science, i.e. determining appropriate and effective recruitment procedures for people with dementia, effective eligibility criteria and appropriate outcome measures. We began the evaluation stage of the project in Nov 2021 (see https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/primarycare/dementia/dementia-personalised-care-team), where we are using a realist-informed mixed-methods longitudinal case study approach. When the first COVID-19 lockdown began (March 2020) our team had to be agile and quickly adapt our processes to enable our recruitment (including those who lack capacity to consent), data collection and delivery of the intervention to happen remotely. These methods have evolved into a flexible, hybrid approach that we are employing in Phase 2 of our project, and could be adapted for use with other populations with declining or fluctuating cognition.
Research in development: This draws on my early training and long-standing interest in language and communication, is motivated by my personal experience as a carer of close family members with serious illness navigating difficult conversations, decisions, and available services; it also builds on my recent transition into applied health services research. This developing research starts with the person with dementia and their carer/family as its centre and considers specific questions related to ensuring they are supported to live and die well. Supporting the health and social care professionals working with these individuals as well as the researchers building an evidence base to improve living and dying well is important too. Four themes guide this line of research: (i) facilitating meaningful and person-centered communication for the person with dementia and the people around them; (ii) responding to the longer-term needs of people with dementia that have emerged as a result of the pandemic; (iii) inclusivity in research and care; and (iv) how the tools and interventions that come out of this research can be implemented across a range of settings. Three strands of research I am currently developing that showcase these themes are: (i) advance care planning in dementia; (ii) including the voice of under-served individuals in research and care; (iii) delivering care and support to the under-served and vulnerable. All three strands consider the challenges faced by the person with dementia and their carers/families, the health and social care professional, and the researcher respectively. They also take into account the impact COVID-19 has had on the future of health and social care support (e.g. remote care/consultations) as well as on how we conduct research (e.g. remote recruitment, remote delivery of an intervention), and will continue to adapt methods we developed during the height of the pandemic and beyond.
I am one of the founding members for the Researchers in Palliative and End-of-Life Support (RIPELS) group. Our group share an interest in the range of questions related to this area (including advance care planning). We sit within the Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research (PIHR).
Research degrees awarded to supervised students
Lim Li Koon, Reading processes in biscriptal children in Singapore
Masnidah Masnawi, Imageability and verb-noun naming in Aphasia: Can the effect of grammatical class be reduced to differences in imageability?
Philina Ng, Fusiform gyrus: Investigation of visual word recognition in the bilingual brain
Seng Su Lin, Bilingual language control and switching
Waine, H. Functional grammatical development in children with Developmental Language Disorder
Grants & contracts
2012 – 2015 Managing Two Languages: Language Control in Healthy Vs. Brain Damaged Bilinguals (PI)
2008 – 2009 The Role Of Declarative And Procedural Memory In Bilingual Speakers (PI)
2006 – 2008 Adult Reading Test to Estimate the Pre-Morbid IQ of Patients with Schizophrenia (Co-PI)
2005 – 2008 Language in the Bilingual Brain: Comparing Healthy and Aphasic Chinese-English Bilinguals (PI)
McKenna, PJ. and TM Oh. (2005). Schizophrenic Speech: Making Sense of Bathroots and Ponds that Fall in Doorways. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Key publications are highlightedJournals
Griffiths S, Gude A, Greene L, Weston L, Sutcliffe CL, Wheat H, Oh TM & Byng R (2022) Do I have the capacity to make capacity judgements? Researcher reflections from a person-centred dementia support study. Dementia
Griffiths S, Weston L, Morgan-Trimmer S, Wheat H, Gude A, Manger L, Oh T, Clarkson P, Quinn, C, Sheaff R, Clark M, Sherriff I, & Byng R (2022) Engaging Stakeholders in Realist Programme Theory Building: Insights from the Prospective Phase of a Primary Care Dementia Support Study. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. January 2022.
Oh TM., Graham S., Ng P., Yeh IB, Chan BPL and Edwards AM (2019). Age and Proficiency in the Bilingual Brain Revisited: Activation Patterns Across Different L2-Learner Types. Front. Commun. 4:39. doi: 10.3389/fcomm.2019.00039
Graham, S., Oh, TM., Manning, V., Kang, S., Yeh, I.B. & McKenna, P. (2019). Brain activity differences between schizophrenia patients and healthy controls – Schizophrenia or IQ related? European Science Journal 15 (22).
Oh, TM., KL Tan, P Ng, IB Yeh & S Graham. (2011) “The Past Tense Debate: Is Phonological Complexity the Key to the Puzzle?” NeuroImage, 57, 271-280.
Graham, S., E Phua, CS Soon, TM Oh, C Au, B Shuter, SC Wang and BY Ing, (2009). "Role of medial cortical, hippocampal and striatal interactions during cognitive set-shifting". NeuroImage, 45: 1359-67.
Pomarol-Clotet, E., TM Oh, K Laws and PJ McKenna. (2008). Semantic Priming in Schizophrenia: A Meta-Analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 192: 92-97.
Kircher, TJ., TM Oh, MJ Brammer, and PK McGuire. (2005). Neural correlates of syntax production in schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 186: 209-214
Oh, TM. (2003). “Language abnormalities in schizophrenia: A Linguist’s Perspective”. In Hajar A. Rahim and Shakila A. Manan (eds.) Issues in Linguistics and English Language Teaching. USM Press: Penang.
Oh, TM., RA McCarthy, & PJ McKenna. (2002). Is there a schizophasia? A study applying the single case approach to formal thought disorder in schizophrenia. Neurocase, 8(3):233-44.
Nolan, F. & TM Oh. (1996). "Identical twins, different voices". Forensic Linguistics 3 (1): 39-49.
Oh, TM. (2014). “The Declarative Procedural Model of Language: A new framework for studying the non-inflecting languages of Southeast Asia?” In Heather Winskel and Prakash Paddakannaya (eds.) South and Southeast Asian Psycholinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Previous universities worked at
Plymouth Marjon University (Jan 2016 - May 2019)
National University of Singapore (May 2002 - Dec 2015)
Universiti Sains Malaysia (July 1999 - Apr 2002)
Associate Dean for Research (Plymouth Marjon University)
Head of Department (English & Language Sciences, Plymouth Marjon Unversity)
Chair of University Research Ethics (Plymouth Marjon University)
Graduate Chair (Department of English Language & Literature, National University of Singaopre)
Chair of Department Research Ethics (Department of English Language & Literature, National University of Singapore)