Christmas Lectures

Professor Sophie Scott will take us on a fascinating journey through one of the fundamentals of human and animal life: the unstoppable urge to communicate, in the 2017 CHRISTMAS LECTURES on communication.

Professor Sophie Scott | Image: Paul Wilkinson

The online CHRISTMAS LECTURES zone focuses on an element of communication of great importance; privacy. Eavesdropping at a party has transitioned to our data being collected digitally, often without us realising or consenting to it. Privacy has many links to science and technology and this CHRISTMAS LECTURES zone is your opportunity to ask questions to the experts in this field.

For more information on this year’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES, visit the Ri site.

Lecture One looks at how we gained the remarkable instrument that is the human voice. Sophie will explore how laughter provides a link to our animal past, how our voice box has changed the shape of our faces and why we sound the way we do.

In Lecture Two Sophie will explore the hidden code of communication, the more secret and sometimes more sinister side of human interaction – everything we say without opening our mouths – from contagious behaviours to the emotional clues in smell, and whether information wired directly into our brains is really a future we want.

And in Lecture Three, Sophie will examine one of the biggest puzzles in science – how and when humans first evolved language – revealing the huge amount of raw brainpower and sensory skill needed to understand even a simple sentence and how we convey as much meaning through our tone, pace and pitch of voice as we say with our words.

Along the way we’ll feature a modern-day return to classic television moments from past Lectures such as Sir David Attenborough’s ‘The Language of Animals’ from 1973, and may even attempt a world record.