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Professor Nicola S. Clayton FRS FSB FAPS C Psychol

Professor Nicola S. Clayton, FRS FSB FAPS C Psychol

Professor of Comparative Cognition

Director of Studies in Natural Sciences (Biological), Clare College, Cambridge

Graduate Tutor, Clare College, Cambridge

Scientist in Residence at Rambert Dance Company

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 3 33559 (Department)

Subject groups/Research projects

The Developmental Psychology Consortium:

Research Interests

Nicola Clayton is Professor of Comparative Cognition in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Clare College and a Fellow of the Royal Society. Her expertise lies in the contemporary study of comparative cognition, integrating a knowledge of both biology and psychology to introduce new ways of thinking about the evolution and development of intelligence in non-verbal animals and pre-verbal children.

Nicky is also Rambert Dance Company’s first Scientist in Residence. She collaborates with Mark Baldwin, the Artitsitc Director, on new choreographic works inspired by science Professor Nicola Clayton pictureincluding the Laurence Oliver award winning Comedy of Change, and Seven For A Secret Never To Be Told. Their latest piece, What Wild Ecstasy, saw its London première in May 2012.

Nicky's most recent collaboration is with artist and writer, Clive Wilkins, who is Artist in Residence in the Psychology department. This started about three years ago and arose out of their mutual interest in mental time travel, and its consequences for consciousness, identity, memory and creativity. They also regularly dance tango together. You can watch there TEDx talk Conversations without words here.


  • cognitive development
  • comparative cognition in animals

Key Publications

Ostojic, L., Shaw, R. C., Cheke, L. G. & Clayton, N. S. (2013). Evidence suggesting that desire-state attribution may govern food sharing in Eurasian jays. Proceedings of the National Academy of. Science 1101, 4123-4128.

Shaw, R. C. & Clayton, N. S. (2013). Careful cachers and prying pilferers: Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) limit auditory information available to competitors. Proceedings of the Royal Society 280 (1752), 1-7.

Cheke, L. C. & Clayton, N. S. (2012). Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) overcome their current desires to anticipate two distinct future needs and plan for them appropriately. Biology Letters 8, 171-175.

Seed, A. M., Call, J. Emery, N. J. & Clayton, N. S. (2009). Chimpanzees solve the trap problem when the confound of tool-use is removed. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes,35, 23-34.

Russell, J. Alexis, D. M. & Clayton, N. S. (2009). Episodic future thinking in 3- to 5- year-old-children: The ability to think of what will be needed from a different point of view. Cognition 114, 56-71.

Stulp, G., Emery, N. J., Verhulst, S. & Clayton, N. S. (2009). Western scrub-jays conceal auditory information when competitors can hear but cannot see. Biology Letters, 5, 583-585.

Raby, C. R., Alexis, D. M., Dickinson, A. & Clayton, N. S. (2007). Planning for the future by Western Scrub-Jays. Nature 445, 919-921. See also Shettleworth, S. J. News and Views, Nature 445, 826-828. And Morell, V. Nicola Clayton Profile: Nicky and the Jays. Science 315, 1074-1075.

Dally, J. M., Emery, N. J. & Clayton, N. S. (2006). Food-caching western scrubjays keep track of who was watching when. Science 312, 1662-1665.

Emery, N. J. & Clayton, N. S. (2004). The mentality of crows. Convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes. Science 306, 1903-1907.

Emery, N. J. & Clayton, N. S. (2001). Effects of experience and social context on prospective caching strategies in scrub jays. Nature 414, 443–446. See also Nature
447, 349.

Clayton, N. S. & Dickinson, A. (1998). Episodic-like memory during cache recovery by scrub jays. Nature 395, 272-278. See Jeffrey, K. & O’Keefe, J. News and Views. Nature 395, 215-216.