Sophie Scott

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Sophie Scott
Colour portrait photograph of Sophie Scott. She is wearing glasses.
Scott in June 2014
Sophie Kerttu Scott

(1966-11-16) 16 November 1966 (age 57)[3][4]
Blackburn, England[4]
Alma mater
Known for
AwardsRoyal Institution Christmas Lectures (2017)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity College London
ThesisPerceptual centers in speech-acoustic determinants (1993)
Doctoral advisorPeter Howell[2]

Sophie Kerttu Scott CBE FMedSci FBA (born 16 November 1966[3][4]) is a British neuroscientist and Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow at University College London (UCL).[3] Her research investigates the cognitive neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter particularly speech perception, speech production, vocal emotions and human communication.[1][6][7] She also serves as director of UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.[8]

Education and early life[edit]

Scott was born in Blackburn, England[4] to Colin Mountford Scott and Christine Winnifred Scott.[3] She was educated at Westholme School and Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Blackburn.[3] She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in life sciences at the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster) in 1990[3][5] followed by research on cognitive science in 1993 supervised by Peter Howell and a PhD at University College London in 1994.[2]

Career and research[edit]

Scott started her research career in Cambridge at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, formerly known as the Applied Psychology Unit. She returned to UCL as a research fellow in 1998. She was awarded a Wellcome Trust Fellowship in 2001 and has been funded by them since.[8] As of 2017 she holds a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship. She is a member of the British Psychological Society, the Society for Neuroscience, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the Experimental Psychology Society.[9]

Scott is head of the Speech Communication Group[10] at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Her research investigates the neural basis of vocal communication – how our brains process the information in speech and voices,[11] and how our brains control the production of our voice.[1][6][7][12][13] Within this, her research covers the roles of streams of processing in auditory cortex, hemispheric asymmetries,[14] and the interaction of speech processing with attentional and working memory factors.[15] 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[16] and the neuroscience of laughter.[9]

Public engagement[edit]

Scott is known for her public engagement work, including performing standup comedy,[17] and was featured in a September 2013 edition of the BBC Radio Four programme The Life Scientific.[18] In March 2014, she was invited to give a Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution on the science of laughter.[19] Her work on laughter has also toured science fairs and exhibitions as part of the Laughter lab project.[20] She has been awarded a UCL Provost's Award for Public engagement.[21] Scott presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2017 entitled The Language of Life which explored the topic of communication.[22]

Scott has been a panel guest several times on BBC Radio 4 programme The Infinite Monkey Cage on episodes covering neuroscience, reality and the human voice[23] and in 2016 appeared on the BBC TV series Horizon, The Science of Laughter with comedian Jimmy Carr.[24]

Awards and honours[edit]

Scott was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2012.[3][25] Her citation on election to the Academy of Medical Sciences reads:

She has drawn together theories and techniques from speech sciences, psychology and primate neuroanatomy in order to understand how the human brain processes speech. Her work was the first to identify that the early perceptual processing of speech parallels the perception of conspecific calls in non-human primate brains. This has contributed to our understanding of recovery from aphasic stroke. She has applied this work to hearing loss, with particular reference to how people can adapt to cochlear implantation. She is now extending her work to understanding the social aspects of communication.[25]

In 2015 Scott spoke at the TED conference[26] and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2016.[3]

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to neuroscience.[27]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sophie Scott publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b Scott, Sophie Kerttu (1993). Perceptual centers in speech-acoustic determinants. (PhD thesis). University College London (University of London). OCLC 941026288. EThOS (registration required)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Anon (2017) "Scott, Prof. Sophie Kerttu". Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). Oxford: A & C Black. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.258412. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c d Wolfe, Alexandra (15 May 2015). "Sophie Scott and the Science of Laughter". The Wall Street Journal. Dr. Scott, 48 ... Born in Blackburn, England"
  5. ^ a b Sophie Scott's ORCID 0000-0001-7510-6297
  6. ^ a b Sophie Scott publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b Sophie Scott publications from Europe PubMed Central
  8. ^ a b "Professor Sophie Scott University College London" (PDF). British Psychological Society. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Meet Sophie Scott". The Royal Institution. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  10. ^ Anon (2017). "speech communication lab".
  11. ^ Scott, Sophie K.; Blank, C. Catrin; Rosen, Stuart; Wise, Richard J. S. (2000). "Identification of a pathway for intelligible speech in the left temporal lobe". Brain. 123 (12): 2400–2406. doi:10.1093/brain/123.12.2400. ISSN 0006-8950. PMC 5630088. PMID 11099443.
  12. ^ Blank, S. C. (2002). "Speech production: Wernicke, Broca and beyond". Brain. 125 (8): 1829–1838. doi:10.1093/brain/awf191. ISSN 1460-2156. PMID 12135973.
  13. ^ Rauschecker, Josef P.; Scott, Sophie K. (2009). "Maps and streams in the auditory cortex: nonhuman primates illuminate human speech processing". Nature Neuroscience. 12 (6): 718–724. doi:10.1038/nn.2331. ISSN 1546-1726. PMC 2846110. PMID 19471271.
  14. ^ McGettigan, Carolyn; Scott, Sophie K. (2012). "Cortical asymmetries in speech perception: what's wrong, what's right and what's left?". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 16 (5): 269–276. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2012.04.006. ISSN 1879-307X. PMC 4083255. PMID 22521208.
  15. ^ Phillips, M. L.; Young, A. W.; Scott, S. K.; Calder, A. J.; Andrew, C.; Giampietro, V.; Williams, S. C.; Bullmore, E. T.; Brammer, M. (1998). "Neural responses to facial and vocal expressions of fear and disgust". Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 265 (1408): 1809–1817. doi:10.1098/rspb.1998.0506. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 1689379. PMID 9802236.
  16. ^ McGettigan, C.; Walsh, E.; Jessop, R.; Agnew, Z. K.; Sauter, D. A.; Warren, J. E.; Scott, S. K. (2015). "Individual Differences in Laughter Perception Reveal Roles for Mentalizing and Sensorimotor Systems in the Evaluation of Emotional Authenticity" (PDF). Cerebral Cortex. 25 (1): 246–257. doi:10.1093/cercor/bht227. ISSN 1047-3211. PMC 4259281. PMID 23968840.
  17. ^ Guttenplan, Don David (2010). "Academics Making Forays Into Stand-Up Comedy". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Al-Khalili, Jim (2013). "The Life Scientific, Sophie Scott". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  19. ^ Scott, Sophie (11 June 2014). The Science of Laughter. Royal Institution.
  20. ^ Anon (2017). "LOL: the art and science of laughter".
  21. ^ Anon (30 January 2013). "Provost's Awards for Public Engagement". University College London.
  22. ^ Anon (25 August 2017). "The Royal Institution 2017 Christmas Lectures". Royal Institution.
  23. ^ "The Infinite Monkey Cage". BBCRadio 4. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  24. ^ "Jimmy Carr and the science of laughter". BBC Two. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  25. ^ a b Anon (2012). "Professor Sophie Scott FMedSci". London: Academy of Medical Sciences, United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 1 August 2016.
  26. ^ Sophie Scott at TED Edit this at Wikidata
  27. ^ "No. 63135". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 October 2020. p. B10.
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Preceded by Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer
Succeeded by