Nicola Clayton is an experimental psychologist whose studies of members of the crow family have shattered assumptions about the cognitive abilities of non-human animals. Through a series of imaginatively designed experiments, she has shown that rooks, jackdaws and jays can plan for the future and reflect on the past, as well as understand that members of their social groups have minds of their own.
In pursuing her interest in the development and evolution of non-verbal cognition, Nicola also works with young children and non-human apes. Her findings have led her to suggest that intelligence in birds and human and non-human primates evolved independently.
A dancer herself, Nicola explores dance as a form of non-verbal communication. She was the first Scientist in Residence at the dance company Rambert, a title she has continuously held since 2011. She also collaborates with artist and writer Clive Wilkins on The Captured Thought. Nicky and Clive regularly dance together, have given a TEDx talk entitled ‘Conversations Without Words.’
Through the magic of six degrees of separation Nicky and I connected. How exactly? Henry Gee came on my show and said I should speak with Nicky. He was right!
Bio: Nicola Clayton is Professor of Comparative Cognition in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Clare College and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Her expertise lies in the contemporary study of comparative cognition, integrating a knowledge of both biology and psychology to introduce new ways of thinking about the evolution and development of intelligence in non-verbal animals and pre-verbal children. She is currently President of the British Science Association Psychology Section.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
- The Intelligence of Crows
- Mental time travel
- Consciousness, identity, memory and creativity
- Chimpanzees and Humans