Professor Nicola Clayton

Nicola Clayton is professor of comparative cognition in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of Clare College. She was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2010, and in 2011 she became the first ever scientist in residence at Rambert, a position she has held ever since.

Her expertise as a scientist lies in the contemporary study of how animals and children think. This work has led to a re-evaluation of the cognitive capacities of animals, particularly birds, and resulted in a theory that intelligence evolved independently in at least two distantly related groups, the apes and the crows. She has also pioneered new procedures for the experimental study of memory and imagination in animals, investigating its relationship to human memory and consciousness, and how and when these abilities develop in young children.

Nicky is also a dancer, specializing in tango and salsa. In addition to her role as scientist in residence to Rambert, Britain’s flagship contemporary dance company, she collaborates with Mark Baldwin, the artistic director of Rambert, on new choreographic works inspired by science, including the Laurence Olivier Award-winning Comedy of Change, Seven For A Secret Never To Be Told, and What Wild Ecstasy.

Her most recent collaboration with Clive Wilkins (Artist in Residence at the University of Cambridge) which arose out of their mutual interest in imagination, and its consequences for consciousness, identity and memory. Together they combine science and the arts to explore the subjective experience of thinking, with and without words~ they call it The Captured Thought. They regularly dance tango together.

Related Sessions
Sunday 19 October 2014, 12.00 Pit Theatre

Energy futures: how can we keep the lights on?

"Five debates a day sounds a bit daunting beforehand, but I really loved it. The speakers are so knowledgeable and passionate about their chosen topic, and the amount of time dedicated to questions from the audience was great as it really brought in alternative views."
Exeter University student

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