Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"I'd like Less Brexit-And Two More Days in the Week": Sophie Scott, Neuroscientist

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

"I'd like Less Brexit-And Two More Days in the Week": Sophie Scott, Neuroscientist

Article excerpt

Sophie Scott is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London. Her research focuses on vocal communication and emotion. She is this year's Royal Institution Christmas lecturer, talking about "the language of life".

What's your earliest memory?

My dad walking into the kitchen carrying my toddler brother, and announcing that he (my toddler brother) had drunk some engine oil. It was quite the drama.

Who are your heroes?

My headteacher, Dr Joan Bond, who had a PhD and a previous life as a synthetic chemist. I was intrigued by her title, which seemed to solve the Miss/Mrs issue (something I worried about a lot as a child). My adult heroes are my parents who dealt with bad news and difficulty with grace and determination.

What was the last book that changed your thinking?

Galileo's Middle Finger by Alice Dreger. It's an extremely well-written investigation of science and activism. Along with Will Storr's The Heretics, it addresses the ways that we can marginalise unpopular or difficult science and scientists for reasons that are not purely scientific.

What political figure, past or present, do you look up to?

I am still amazed that the 1997 Blair government achieved so much, including peace in Northern Ireland, Sure Start, and reducing the terrible poverty rates among older adults. So Tony Blair. Don't @ me, as they say on Twitter.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Thermostats. I have joined a Facebook group called Photo of My Thermostat, where people post photographs of their thermostats. …

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