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Cambridge Language Sciences

Interdisciplinary Research Centre
Henriette Hendriks and school students take part in the Brainiverse Challenge: ‘Can this model withstand a simulated earthquake?’

A series of impact events on the science of learning were hosted by the NTU-Cambridge Centre for Lifelong Learning and Individualised Cognition (CLIC) in Singapore this summer.

The events, attended by over 1,500 people, including school children, teachers, and government agencies, were an opportunity to share CLIC’s latest research and engage with policymakers and research beneficiaries. 

CLIC is a research centre focused on improving support for lifelong learning and cognitive agility. It is a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), and is funded by Singapore’s National Research Foundation

The CLIC programme aims to address the growing need for flexible behaviour to cope in our modern digital age. As technology and globalisation are changing the way we live and work, it is increasingly important that we can develop new skills over the course of our lives. CLIC focuses on three life periods – early years, adolescence, middle age – where cognitive flexibility is especially important for problem-solving in new situations and adapting to change at home and in work. 

Cambridge Language Sciences (CLS) is one of the interdisciplinary research centres that supported CLIC during the development process and was involved in the planning for this year’s impact events. CLIC’s co-Director, Professor Zoe Kourtzi, and Deputy Directors Professor Henriëtte Hendriks and Associate Professor Victoria Leong, are also active members of CLS. 

Engagement with Policymakers

The ‘Engagement with Policymakers’ roundtable took place on 25 August. 

The aim was to share current research on lifelong learning, brain health and mental wellbeing, and identify strategic opportunities, challenges, and recommendations most relevant in Singapore.

The event brought together government agency stakeholders including Senior Directors from the Singaporean Ministries of Education and Family, with Principle Investigators (PIs) from CLIC’s research team. 

As an outcome, the CLIC Policy Report has been tabled for discussion at the National Research Foundation (NRF), Singapore’s next Human Health and Potential Steering Committee meeting. 

The roundtable was coordinated by Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at Cambridge, Michelle Ellefson, Professor of Cognitive Science in the Faculty of Education at Cambridge, and Victoria Leong, Associate Professor of Psychology at NTU and Deputy Director of CLIC. 

It comprised four workshops: 

  • Childhood: including the importance of parents engaging in playful learning with their children; 
  • Adolescence: including the role of generative AI and human-machine interactions in enhancing adolescent learning;
  • Adulthood: including how adults can maintain their brain health and plasticity to sustain high work productivity and lifelong learning;
  • Future Learning: such as the potential of personalised learning, empathetic technologies, and the responsible adoption of AI.

Professor Ng Huck Hui, Assistant Chief Executive of Singaporean research funder, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), who attended the event said “What truly stood out was the event's commitment to address key policy questions and problem statements gathered from the various Ministries and agencies based on global research and to discuss strategies tailored to Singapore's unique context to ensure that the insights gained were not only globally relevant but also applicable and meaningful within our local community."

He added "The collaborations forged and the ideas exchanged will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future landscape of education and cognitive wellbeing in Singapore. A heartfelt thank you to NTU-Cambridge CLIC .” 

The Brainiverse Experience: Jetting to Better Learning and Brain Health

‘The Brainiverse Experience’ and ‘Brainiverse Interactive’ – a science festival and interactive public engagement exhibition – took place over two days at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore on 26 August and 8 September.

Attended by school children, teachers, families, and other members of the public, the two ‘Brainiverse’ events were an opportunity to explore and celebrate the wonders of the human brain. Topics included human cognition and creativity, neurodiversity, and cognitive flexibility.

‘The Brainiverse Experience’ featured keynote presentations by renowned Cambridge scientists, Professor Trevor Robbins, Professor David Rowitch and Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, as well as interactive activities to engage and inspire attendees.

Activities included ‘The Brainiverse Challenge’ – a team-based competition for secondary school children demanding both engineering and cognitive flexibility. Students had to build and adapt ‘Jenga’ structures to withstand varying levels of tremors on an earthquake simulation machine. 

‘The Brainiverse Art Contest’ drew over 60 artwork submissions from local special needs schools. Under the theme ‘Neurodiversity: No Brain is the Same’, students were invited to express how their perspectives are shaped by the different ways their brains work. The initiative was designed to promote the inclusion of individuals with diverse thinking and being, aligning with Singapore’s Enabling Masterplan (EMP) 2030.

On the second day, ‘Brainiverse Interactive’ featured hands-on interactive booths and activities designed to make the science of learning accessible to the general public. Attendees had the opportunity to try cognitive tests from CLIC research, as well as activities to test other brain functions such as language abilities, decision-making skills and creativity.

Videos of the ‘Brainiverse’ keynote presentations are available at: 

Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore: ‘Sensitive Periods of Development in Human Adolescence’

Prof David Rowitch: ‘Role of Myelin in Brain Complexity, Learning and Disease’

Prof Trevor Robbins: ‘Cognitive flexibility as the gateway to successful decision-making, creative thinking and optimal brain function’


The CLIC Impact Event Planning Committee is acknowledged for their outstanding commitment and contribution:

Principal Investigators: A/Prof Victoria Leong (co-chair), Professor Henriette Hendriks (co-chair), Professor Barbara Sahakian, Professor Michelle Ellefson, Dr Teo Chew Lee and Dr Peter Seow

Staff: Shamsul Azrin bin Jamaluddin, Marisha Barth Ubrani, Dr Nadhilla Velda Melia, Phillis Fu Wei Li, Restria Fauziana, Natalie Philyra Hoo Hui-Min, Lee Kean Mun, Lim Jen Hui and Shipli Tripathi

Special thanks also to Olivia Lee (CARES) and to Professor David Rowitch for providing strong representation of Cambridge senior leadership on the ground, and to all our speakers and presenters as well as co-sponsors from A*STAR and the Science Centre, Singapore.

Image: Henriette Hendriks and school students take part in the Brainiverse Challenge: ‘Can this model withstand a simulated earthquake?’; Image credit: Elliot Chan Productions and Phillis Fu Wei Li

What we do

Cambridge Language Sciences is an Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Our virtual network connects researchers from five schools across the university as well as other world-leading research institutions. Our aim is to strengthen research collaborations and knowledge transfer across disciplines in order to address large-scale multi-disciplinary research challenges relating to language research.