Meet Sophie Scott

Who is Sophie Scott? Meet the 2017 Christmas Lecturer.

  • Sophie Scott on Oxford Street

    Sophie Scott, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London

    Credit: Paul Wilkinson


Professor Sophie Scott FMedSci is at University College London (UCL), where her special interest is in researching the neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter. 

Sophie is Deputy Director and Head of the Speech Communications Group at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. She is a member of the British Psychological Society, the Society for Neuroscience, the cognitive Neuroscience Society and the Experimental Psychology Society. She was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2012 and a Fellow of the British Academy in 2016.

In December 2017 Sophie will deliver the Royal Institution’s annual CHRISTMAS LECTURES. Filmed in the Royal Institution’s world famous lecture theatre in London, the CHRISTMAS LECTURES have been continuously broadcast since 1966, most recently on the BBC and produced by Windfall Films since 2000. 

Sophie has a long held affection for the Royal Institution, having watched the CHRISTMAS LECTURES herself as a child, and strongly believes in its educational outreach, particularly for less advantaged children, for example through its ExpeRimental videos. Sophie has even appeared in an ExpeRimental video herself, having fun with her son Hector by exploring the magical world of static electricity by making charged objects move without touching them.

Having received her PhD in Cognitive Science at UCL in 1994 before going on to work in Cambridge at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Sophie returned to UCL as a Research Fellow in 1998.

Sophie’s research investigates the neural basis of vocal communication – how our brains process the information in speech and voices and how our brains control the production of our voice. Within this, her research covers the roles of streams of processing in auditory cortex, hemispheric asymmetries and the interaction of speech processing with attentional and working memory factors. Other interests include individual differences in speech perception and plasticity in speech perception, since these are important factors for people with cochlear implants. Sophie is also interested in the expression of emotion in the voice. In particular, her research in recent years has focused on the neuroscience of laughter.

Sophie is known for her public engagement work and was featured in a September 2013 edition of the BBC Radio Four programme The Life Scientific. In March 2014, she was invited to give a Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution on the science of laughter. Her work on laughter has also toured science fairs and exhibitions as part of the Laughter Lab project. She has been awarded a UCL Provost's Award for Public Engagement.


Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiescott

Watch Sophie's lecture on the science of laughter