Lecture 3 - The word

What is langauge and how close do other animals come to having it? Dogs can be very good at following our commands, but do they actually understand any of the words we use? Birds are the only other species that can say human words and Professor Scott reveals how humans and birds share some common brain functions that make this possible. She also shows what happens when this section of our brain cannot function properly. But are birds simply mimicking us or can they comprehend anything of the human words they can be trained to utter?

Language isn't just a power to combine words. Professor Scott explores how we convey a huge amount of information through the tone of voice, our accents and the pace and pitch of our speech. In a world when we regularly talk to computers, she also shows why scientists need to develop machines that can understand the subtleties of our speech to be able to fully comprehend human language.

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© Royal institution / Windfall Films




Sophie Scott



All lectures in the series