Zunaira J. Iqbal

PhD Student, Cognitive and Information Sciences
Plant Enthusiast

Hello! I’m Zunaira Iqbal, a PhD student in Cognitive and Information Sciences at the University of California, Merced. My research interests are a blend of psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, and bilingualism. When I'm not doing #gradschoolthings, I enjoy taking care of indoor plants (I have over 50!), reading literature, playing guitar, or doing any crafty project!

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Latest news:

I will be (virtually) presenting a Slide Slam at the 2021 Society for the Neurobiology of Language Conference in October! I'm super excited!!

I am an NSF-NRT fellow :)

Here is a a recorded presentation of mine!


  • 2019-Present

    PhD Student, Cognitive & Information Sciences, University of California, Merced

    I currently am a PhD student at UC Merced where I am co-advised by Dr. Kristina Backer and Dr. Michael Spivey.

  • 2015-2019

    B.S. in Psychology w/ an Emphasis in Biology, University of California, Davis

    I graduated from UC Davis in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology with an emphasis in biology along with two minors in Linguistics and Spanish. While there, I worked in Dr. David Corina's Cognitive Neurolinguistics Lab, where we did research on brain plasticity of children with cochlear implants.


Influence of Visual Stimuli on Phonetic Representations in Spanish-English Bilinguals

How do Spanish-English bilinguals represent phonemes that occur in one language but not the other?

The differences in Spanish and English phonology are unique in regards to certain phonemes. For example, in Spanish phonology, unlike English, there is not a distinction between the phonemes /b/ and/v/. In Spanish, the sound of /v/ maps onto /b/ which is why often, many native Spanish speakers replace /v/ sounds in English words with /b/ (e.g., Volleyball is pronounced like bolleyball). This difference in the two languages’ phonologies poses an interesting question: How do Spanish-English bilinguals mentally represent /b/ and /v/ and how does visual information influence the perception of these phonemes?

Watch my recorded talk.

Spanish-English Bilinguals' Phonemic Respresentations in Noise

How well do Spanish-English bilinguals perceive phonemes in the presense noise?

Speech perception in noisy situations is difficult, especially when trying to comprehend one’s second language in the presence of background noise. I examine how background noise impacts speech perception along a continuum from /va/ to /ba/ in Spanish-English bilinguals and English monolinguals. The /v/ and /b/ phonemes are of key interest since Spanish phonology maps /v/ onto /b/, whereas English makes a clear distinction between these two sounds. This study also looks at how individual differences in the bilinguals’ language profiles (e.g., age of English acquisition) modulate their speech perception along the /va/ to /ba/ continuum.

I will be presenting on this research at the virtual 2021 SNL Meeting in October! Be sure to check it out.

Cool New Research in the Works!

Stay tuned!

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Investigation of rabbit’s neuronal reaction What is the main factor of peoples agression?


Coming soon!



  • Social Sciences and Management Building (SSM),
  • University of California, Merced
  • Ansel Adams Rd.
  • Merced, CA 95340