Sophie Scott

Sophie Scott researches the neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter and was our 2017 Christmas Lecturer.

Sophie Scott, with blurred crowd of people in the background
Paul Wilkinson

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 delivered the CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

Sophie has a long held affection for the Ri, 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 also appeared in one of our ExpeRimental videos, having fun with her son 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 the auditory cortex, hemispheric asymmetries and the interaction of speech processing with attentional and working memory factors.

Sophie's other interests include individual differences in speech perception and plasticity in speech perception since these are important factors for people with cochlear implants. She 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 Discourse at the Ri 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.