Nicky Clayton on the theory of mind (22-06-2016)

British psychologist Nicky Clayton on the theory of mind. What is thinking? How do people and animals think?

More videos with Nicky Clayton



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Can you introduce yourself? (00:00:00)
Why does a contemporary dance company need a scientist? (00:00:47)
Is the emphasis on science or dance? (00:01:52)
What do you teach? (00:03:02)
You want to know how birds, particularly crows, can think?  (00:04:02)
What is thinking? (00:05:01)
What is a thought? (00:06:16)
You are talking about? (00:09:51)
Can you define thinking in another way? (00:10:46)
Why are you so interested in this subject? (00:12:40)
What kind of thinking is without words? (00:13:59)
Is it a thought, if you see a beautiful painting or dance? (00:17:46)
How do you research thinking? (00:21:18)
How do you know that crows think? (00:23:47)
Are you interested in thinking in crows and/or in humans? (00:28:08)
What did you learn from crows so far? (00:30:31)
Can you show evidence? (00:32:09)
How can humans benefit from your discoveries? (00:32:45)
Can birds fall in love? (00:35:24)
Is pairing for life an evolutionary process? (00:36:40)
Can you develop thinking? (00:38:28)
Can thinking over the course of evolution change? (00:40:10)
Can we find new ways of thinking? (00:44:05)
Can you compare a thought with something unique like your eyes or face? (00:48:16)
Are memories subjective experiences? (00:50:50)
How are thoughts created? (00:53:39)
How hard is it to try to understand alien brains? (00:56:01)
What exactly are you looking for? (00:57:40)
Are you able to think in different ways? (00:59:27)
Is it possible not to think? (01:02:23)
When you die, the only thing that survive is your thoughts? (01:03:41)
Why do you want to fly? (01:08:04)
Do you need this idea to keep going? (01:10:16)
Tomorrow in the lab, we will see lot of children? (01:10:59)
You dance everywhere? (01:11:41)
Does every scientist have an artist inside? (01:13:15)
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00:00:00 Nicky: My name's Nicky Clayton
00:00:02 and I'm professor of comparative cognition at the University of Cambridge in the Psychology department.
00:00:09 I'm also a scientist in residence at Rambert, the dance company in London.
00:00:15 Speaker 2: Rambert?
00:00:15 Nicky: Rambert, yeah.
00:00:16 Speaker 2: What is that?
00:00:17 Nicky: It's the name, r-a-m-b-e-r, it was called Ballet Rambert, originally
00:00:23 and then it became Rambert Dance Company And most recently,
00:00:26 they changed the name again to just Rambert because it stands as an orchestra, and it's 90 years old this year.
00:00:35 We've just celebrated our 90th birthday.
00:00:37 Speaker 2: Okay, really, but you're a scientist in residence at a ballet company?
00:00:43 Nicky: That's correct, yes. Well, ballet and contemporary dance, yes.
00:00:47 Speaker 2: Why do they need a scientist? [LAUGH]
00:00:51 Speaker 2: What's science do-
00:00:52 Nicky: Well, I do various things but mainly I collaborate with Mark Baldwin, who's a world famous choreographer
00:01:00 and artistic director of the company.
00:01:02 And we've worked on five choreographic works together, one about evolution called The Comedy of Change.
00:01:10 One that was about crows and children and the power of play, called Sudden for Secret, Ever to be Told.
00:01:18 One about sexual conflict, which was called What Was Ecstasy.
00:01:24 So that's three of them,
00:01:26 and most recent one that we’re doing which will premier shortly in July in fact called the creation based on Hayden's
00:01:35 creation. It’s about the origin of life and the origin of time. It’s very movement based.
00:01:42 So that's some of the sorts of things that I do with my company
00:01:46 and I also work with some of our dancers on their individual choreography.
00:01:50 Speaker 2: Okay, so what's, why the emphasis on the signs or the event?
00:01:56 Nicky: It's the integration of the two. It's about using ideas from science to inspire new choreographic works.
00:02:07 So it's quite an interesting thing to do.
00:02:09 And Clive Wilkins with whom I collaborate on the captured thought and dance tango.
00:02:16 We wrote a paper together with another of my colleagues, Kevin Layland on the evolution of dance,
00:02:23 which was published quite recently in Current Biology. So, all the work is interrelated.
00:02:29 It is about, I suppose I am a movement junkie. I love to move.
00:02:34 I love to dance and my science and art is really inspired by my love of dance and my love of birds,
00:02:42 cuz I always wanted to be a bird. I've always wanted to fly and I have invisible wings.
00:02:47 Speaker 2: I can see them. [LAUGH]
00:02:51 Nicky: Yeah.
00:02:52 Speaker 2: Let me go back to your professor at Cambridge University.
00:03:03 Can you tell me what this exactly is, your Department. What do you teach?
00:03:12 Nicky: Well, I'm based in a department of psychology these days, although my training, initially, was in zoology.
00:03:20 So I read zoology at Oxford University.
00:03:23 But I've always been interested in the interface between biology
00:03:27 and psychology because I'm interested in how birds think.
00:03:32 So the zoological aspect of it, is because of the birds,
00:03:36 and the psychological aspect of it is that I'm interested in cognition.
00:03:41 I'm interested in what's it like to think without words, as well as what it's like to think with words,
00:03:47 which is something I explore scientifically in terms of the ability of birds in general,
00:03:53 and members of the crow family in particular. They're at cognitive abilities, their problem solving.
00:04:00 Speaker 2: Really, it's racing comes from zoology? [CROSSTALK] The other part from psychology.
00:04:12 Nicky: Yeah.
00:04:12 Speaker 2: And you combine it with trying to find out how birds can think.
00:04:18 Nicky: Well, crows in particular, because crows are extremely intelligent. They've got huge brains for their body size.
00:04:24 In fact, relative to body size their brains are as large as those of chimpanzees.
00:04:29 And we know that they are extremely good problem solvers.
00:04:34 The kinds of things that I've been investigating are whether these birds are capable of remembering the past
00:04:44 and thinking about the future.
00:04:46 So in other words, can they, lIke us, mentally travel backwards
00:04:50 and forwards in time to remember specific past episodes and to imagine and crucially plan for future scenarios.
00:05:00 Speaker 2: Okay, let me go back to define first what, in your opinion is and then, without thinking about birth,
00:05:15 what do you think is thinking?
00:05:17 Nicky: I would define cognition as the ability to problem solve.
00:05:26 And it involves a series of skills, but the kinds of things that I want to include would be mental time travel
00:05:37 and theory of mind. These two skills are related, so mental time travel is about being able to think about other times.
00:05:46 So, times other than the here, and now, hence past, and future.
00:05:50 And, theory of mind is the ability to think about other minds.
00:05:54 So, if I have theory of mind, then I can understand that, your perspective will be similar to mine, in some regards,
00:06:03 but in other ways, it will be crucially different.
00:06:06 And the idea that I could put myself in your shoes, and imagine what you're thinking would be theory of mind.
00:06:12 I think they're two important thinking skills.
00:06:16 Speaker 2: They're thinking skills, but when you define what is thinking, what is thinking?
00:06:24 Nicky: Well, as I've said, I think it's problem solving.
00:06:27 Speaker 2: It's problem solving, and so what is a thought?
00:06:30 Nicky: So, a thought is the ability to project the mind.
00:06:36 So the problem with just defining it as problem solving is that I could say one problem I've got here is I'm thirsty.
00:06:43 I want to pick up this cup to drink the water.
00:06:46 Now, you could say that the ability to hold the cup and do this allows me to solve the problem of being thirsty.
00:06:53 Well, that's a physical task.
00:06:55 But the point about thinking is that you can play multiple scenarios in the mind without actually executing the task
00:07:03 first. So I might have never encountered this kind of object before.
00:07:08 Be able to think through in the mind's eye without taking any action what is the minimal amount of things I need to do
00:07:17 in order to drink the water. So, for example with the birds.
00:07:21 We have a water test that involves something similar to this.
00:07:24 We call it the Aesop's Fable because it's based on the Aesop's Fable of The Thirsty Crow and The Pitcher.
00:07:31 And in the fable of course, the crow encounters a pitcher of water.
00:07:35 The water is too low, and so it's not within beak reach.
00:07:41 And what the crow does is, she finds some stones
00:07:43 and puts the stone into the pitcher to raise the water level to a level at which she can drink.
00:07:50 So we can do something similar with our birds. We can present them with a tube that's got some water in.
00:07:55 The water level is too low for the birds just to be able to go and reach the water.
00:08:00 In fact, in our case, we don't make If the bird's thirsty we float a little tasty worm on top of the water.
00:08:07 Waxworms and wax moth larvae, as they're properly called as a zoologist,
00:08:13 are the Belgian truffles of the Corvidae world. They really, really love these.
00:08:18 And so they're then highly motivated to get these worms.
00:08:21 And of course the worms are hard to reach because the water level's too low.
00:08:25 And the birds spontaneously put stones into the water level to raise the water.
00:08:33 We can then use a task like that to, basic problem solving task, to ask, well,
00:08:38 how are the birds thinking through this problem? How can they solve these things?
00:08:42 So for example, we could have a series of tubes, only one of which contains water.
00:08:49 Maybe in another condition, the worm is floating in air, thanks to a bit of [INAUDIBLE] rather than real magic.
00:08:56 And in another one, the worm is resting on a solid, say sand,
00:09:00 and we can ask whether the birds understand that there's no point putting stones into a tube full of air
00:09:07 or a tube full of sand. That's not gonna change the level of the substrate.
00:09:12 It's only going to work with the liquid, with the water.
00:09:15 Similarly, we can give them the choice of different kinds of objects to put into the tube
00:09:20 and ask whether they understand that it's heavy ones that sink, that are actually going to displace the water.
00:09:26 And therefore allow the water level to rise to a level at which they can then reach the worm.
00:09:33 Whereas if they put hollow ones in or ones that just float, that's not going to displace the water.
00:09:39 So we can do various tests like that to see how they're thinking through the problem.
00:09:44 And that's a way of trying to get it, how they can solve these problems and what they understand about the tasks.
00:09:51 Speaker 2: Yeah, but now you are talking about the Corvidae family.
00:09:55 Nicky: I'm talking about how the jays and rooks and [CROSSTALK] children.
00:10:00 Speaker 2: Yeah, I'll talk about that later.
00:10:03 Nicky: Yeah but that's as an example. You asked me. There isn't a set definition up here.
00:10:09 I can't give you full words that nails down what thinking is, because if I try and do that,
00:10:15 there's going to be too many caveats to it.
00:10:17 Speaker 2: Yeah, I understand. That's why I wanted you to think out loud, what it could possibly be.
00:10:21 Nicky: So that's why I think problem solving, but one in which you can have sort of internal trial and error
00:10:27 and think through a problem is key.
00:10:29 Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, that's interesting for me.
00:10:32 First I would like to try to find out well, what's the area we are talking about?
00:10:37 And after that I would like to talk with you about how do you do your research with crows and with children?
00:10:45 Nicky: Yeah, so I think one difference you see-
00:10:48 Speaker 2: Not everything about thinking and cognition is very clear to me because our audience is well educated,
00:10:55 but they are not scientists. So that's why we're talking a little bit about what are we talking about.
00:11:05 Nicky: Yes, well, the reason I gave problem solving is that
00:11:09 but there are simple ways of problem solving that you wouldn't call thinking.
00:11:13 Would be, you could imagine you just do something through trial and error.
00:11:16 So you have no idea what this is, it's a novel object. And you push it this way, and that doesn't work.
00:11:22 And you do that, and that doesn't work.
00:11:24 And eventually, through exploring a number of things, you figure out that the best way to get the cup
00:11:30 and drink is to do that action. And then they're after you, just to more of the same.
00:11:36 Well, that's called learning by trial and error or instrumental conditioning is what the psychologists would call that.
00:11:43 And most people wouldn't want to call any problem solving that simply occurred through learning by trial and error
00:11:51 or instrumental conditioning cognition. They would want to say that cognition requires more than that.
00:11:58 It's the ability to actually think through a problem without necessarily having to learn about the outcomes first.
00:12:05 So that's why I've used that example as a distinction.
00:12:10 So what you're usually looking for is to train your animal, your human subject,
00:12:16 on a particular task until they're doing it.
00:12:19 And then you use some kind of transfer test, in which really what you're tapping into is what have they understood,
00:12:26 and how they do, simply more than just simple learning by rote.
00:12:31 Can they abstract some sort of general rule that tells you that yes, they're actually thinking about it?
00:12:37 They're just not automatically doing it.
00:12:40 Speaker 2: Why are you so interested in this subject about how this works in your mind?
00:12:47 Nicky: Well, I suppose I'm fascinated by thinking, per se.
00:12:55 And at one level, I'm really interested in the different kinds of thought processes that go on
00:13:06 and the extent to which they rely on words or don't rely on words.
00:13:11 So I say words rather than language because, of course, in humans we have language.
00:13:20 And sometimes we think without using words.
00:13:23 But I wouldn't want to say that that's without language because it's not like you take bits of the brain that are
00:13:29 responsible for language. And scraping them out of the brain and put on the side and carry on.
00:13:35 All your linguistic skills contribute to all your thought processes, with and without words.
00:13:42 But the whole idea that we might be able to get some to which words enrich our thoughts,
00:13:50 but perhaps even more intriguingly the extent to which they can constrain our thoughts, I think is a fascinating area.
00:13:58 Speaker 2: You meant, you expressed thinking in words?
00:14:04 Nicky: Thinking without words.
00:14:05 Speaker 2: Without words.
00:14:06 Nicky: Yeah.
00:14:07 Speaker 2: So what kinds of-
00:14:09 Nicky: Well-
00:14:10 Speaker 2: Ways of thinking are-
00:14:11 Nicky: Contemporary dance, visual arts, are both examples of thinking without words or thinking largely without words.
00:14:21 When you see a beautiful painting, it doesn't usually have words on it.
00:14:25 And even if it does have a word on it, like the famous this is not a pipe,
00:14:31 even then the point is so much more than just the words, right?
00:14:35 And similarly in contemporary times, you see a beautiful series of movements, but words are really secondary.
00:14:47 Yes, it's got a title, and yes, there might be a small description in the program, but the performance is so much more,
00:14:56 or the original magic effect. That is also largely without words.
00:15:00 I mean, the patter that goes with the effect is just a small part of the act.
00:15:04 The bit that everybody goes aah is when something unexpected happens,
00:15:11 when you realize that you can't possibly have seen what you thought you saw.
00:15:16 And you must have not seen what really happened. So I'm interested in those juxtapositions.
00:15:25 Speaker 2: A beautiful painting, you mean, the artist had a thought and he tried to express it in colors and-
00:15:33 Nicky: Yes, yes, and the way in which you then wonder what the artist actually saw, what they actually thought,
00:15:43 why they chose to represent it in that particular way.
00:15:46 Speaker 2: Yeah.
00:15:47 Nicky: And even with words, I mean, I think there's an interesting difference between scientific writing
00:15:57 and literally artistic writing.
00:16:00 Because in scientific writing You want to make everything as unambiguous as possible,
00:16:04 because the whole point of a scientific paper is that, strictly speaking,
00:16:09 anybody should be able to read the method section of the paper.
00:16:13 And if they have the right skills and facilities, they should be able to replicate the findings.
00:16:19 So, in a scientific paper, you want to make everything as unambiguous and clear as possible.
00:16:27 But very often in literary writing, you want to make it ambiguous cuz you want layers to it.
00:16:33 You want the words not to be self-explanatory, but to generate new thoughts. I think that is an interesting contrast.
00:16:43 So, in a way, I think in really good literature,
00:16:49 the words are almost being used in the way notes are used by a composer to create a beautiful story.
00:16:58 To build rich layers of atmosphere, much of which is largely wordless, right?
00:17:07 I mean, you can have labels for emotions, but there's so much more to love, or joy, or sorrow,
00:17:15 than there is to just the label of it.
00:17:19 In the same way as when you see a beautiful piece of art, you hear a goodish piece of music, all these feelings
00:17:27 and thoughts swell up inside you, but the words are only secondary, right?
00:17:37 There's a subjective experience going on inside the mind of the viewer, or listener, or both.
00:17:44 Speaker 2: And it's a thought, you think?
00:17:47 Is it a thought if you see a beautiful painting, or a beautiful dance, or a beautiful- Yes, I think they're thoughts.
00:17:54 Nicky: Heavily charged emotional thoughts often, but- Conscious thoughts?
00:18:00 I think they canbe conscious, and I think they can be unconscious, right?
00:18:03 You can have that unconscious feeling of just, isn't this wonderful,
00:18:09 and then you can actually have real conscious things.
00:18:13 So, when you were talking earlier about the timing of the story telling,
00:18:20 if some sort of dramatic music comes at the wrong time and the experience, you're suddenly very conscious of it, right?
00:18:29 All of a sudden, skeptical thoughts come into your head where you think, mm, that's not right, or I don't believe that.
00:18:36 Or you see a bit of a film sequence and it's out of sync, and you go, they stuffed up there, didn't they?
00:18:44 And all of a sudden, those things that perhaps were beforehand just sorta punches, you were enjoying it
00:18:50 but not really questioning your thoughts, all of a sudden, it's like a switch, and suddenly you think, hang on a minute.
00:18:58 Or you're listening to, I don't know, political politicians speaking, and all of a sudden you think, you shifty nettle,
00:19:08 I don't believe you for one minute.
00:19:10 Or I can listen to the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough, and I find myself just believing every word he says.
00:19:22 Because he has that kind of a voice where if he said, Nicki, darling, please jump off a cliff right now
00:19:28 and commit suicide, I'd be halfway there before I was even realizing it, because he's got such a persuasive voice.
00:19:35 So you have that constant flip-flopping, I think, between the conscious experience and the unconscious one.
00:19:42 I mean, a classic case to me is when Clive and I are dancing tango.
00:19:46 If you were to say to me afterwards, what steps did you dance, or show me that move again, I wouldn't remember,
00:19:56 because when we're dancing we're in flow. Which is connected together, moving as one to the music.
00:20:04 So I'm not thinking, he wants me to do a backward upturn now, or a gown show-up. My brain doesn't work that way.
00:20:14 I'm just subconsciously just connecting with Clive and just moving together as one, and synchronating to the music.
00:20:23 I'm not thinking about the moves.
00:20:29 And obviously, that's particularly the case in something like tango, where it's such a connected and improvised dance.
00:20:36 But even in choreographic sequences, often you will hear the rehearsal director saying to one of the dancers,
00:20:45 don't over think it.
00:20:48 Because if you put to much conscious thought, conscious cognition into the process, you will ruin the fluidity
00:20:56 and the naturalness of the music.
00:20:57 So, it was always an interesting juxtaposition there between the conscious and the unconscious thoughts.
00:21:04 Speaker 2: That's very, very interesting, and maybe you can talk about that a little bit later,
00:21:14 because I would like to know, because I just need to know, how do you do your research about thinking?
00:21:25 Because, our viewer doesn't know anything.
00:21:28 So, now, in this part, I would like to feel the surprise that your researched crows. Do you understand?
00:21:39 Nicky: So you mean, you'd like me to talk about an experiment that was surprising?
00:21:48 Speaker 2: Not that, but for our viewers, you researched our mind, about thinking,
00:21:57 but our viewers don't know that you researched crows.
00:21:59 Nicky: Crows, okay.
00:22:01 Speaker 2: So, well, I'll ask you how do you do your research?
00:22:05 Nicky: You want me to start with I work with crows.
00:22:07 Speaker 2: Yeah, for example, yeah, yeah, yeah.
00:22:11 Nicky: Okay.
00:22:12 Nicky: So, I suppose one way to define thoughts would be that I'm interested in studying the mental lives.
00:22:24 And that it's mental movements, I suppose, it's what's going on in the mind that I'm interested in.
00:22:34 And I work mainly with humans and with crows. And you might think, well, why crows?
00:22:46 Surely, monkeys I could understand, but why a crow? Well, crows are extremely intelligent.
00:22:53 They have huge brains to the body size. They're as big as chimpanzees.
00:23:00 In fact, my husband is calling them feathered apes when it comes to their mental abilities,
00:23:05 because they're so cognitively impressive. And they're very observant and very good problem solvers.
00:23:22 So the way in which we do the experiments are to give them a series of problem-solving puzzles, if you like,
00:23:32 with a view to trying to systematically vary certain parameters, in order to try to get a handle on they're thinking,
00:23:43 how they're solving a particular-
00:23:44 Speaker 2: And do crows think?
00:23:45 Nicky: Definitely.
00:23:46 Speaker 2: How do you know? How do you know that crows think?
00:23:49 Nicky: Well, because we can show that they're so good at solving these problems.
00:23:57 They can think about the past and the future, for example. We've been able to show in.
00:24:03 One experiment that they are capable.
00:24:05 Speaker 2: Do they have memories?
00:24:06 Nicky: They have fantastic memories, yeah.
00:24:09 So, your Clark's nutcracker, which is an American Corvid that lives Yosemite high up in the mountains,
00:24:19 hides on average about 30,000 seeds a year.
00:24:24 And can remember the location of these 30,000 caches
00:24:31 and people have tested their memories over a periods of nine months and found no evidence of forgetting.
00:24:38 So, they have really remarkable memories of where they have hidden their stashes.
00:24:44 Speaker 2: They remember 30,000.
00:24:46 Nicky: Yeah.
00:24:47 Speaker 2: It's false.
00:24:47 Nicky: Yeah.
00:24:48 Speaker 2: Where they.
00:24:48 Nicky: Yeah.
00:24:48 Speaker 2: Put their seeds.
00:24:49 Nicky: Yeah, so they've got fantastic memories, and caching, the ability to hide food,
00:24:56 is a very interesting behavior from looking at aspects of cognition Because you can ask it how good are there memories
00:25:03 and you can show that if you remove the seeds, so they couldn't possibly be using smell,
00:25:08 they still go back to those particular places.
00:25:11 We've been able to show that they don't just remember where the food is hidden.
00:25:15 They can remember which kinds of food were hidden where and how long ago, so they can remember what happened where
00:25:22 and when.
00:25:24 We've been able to show that they can even remember which particular individuals were watching when they hid the food,
00:25:31 and then they'll come back later and move those foods to new hiding places.
00:25:36 Which the potential themes, by definition, don't know about the new hiding places.
00:25:41 We've shown that when it comes to social awareness,
00:25:46 they go to great lengths to protect their hidden food from being stolen by others.
00:25:52 So for example, we've been able to show that if other birds are watching, not only do they move them to new places
00:26:03 when the other birds have come back.
00:26:05 But they will also specifically hide the food in shady spots rather then well lit places,
00:26:12 which is much harder for the onlooker to see. And in fact the way we discovered that was we had a BBC1 film crew come.
00:26:20 They were filming for a series called Child of Our Time.
00:26:24 And the cameraman got very frustrated because Sweetie Pie, who was a very tame, beautiful scrub jay would wait
00:26:34 and only had food every time the cameraman had to take a toilet break.
00:26:41 And eventually I had to say to the cameraman look away and I'll tell you when to start recording.
00:26:48 And that was the only way we could film her.
00:26:50 And then we noticed that she was only hiding in the places in the arena that weren't well lit.
00:26:59 And that gave us the idea to actually test, was she specifically choosing shady places when observers were present?
00:27:05 And we found that, sure enough, if another bird or a human was looking, she would selectively cache in the shady spots.
00:27:15 And so would all the other birds we tested.
00:27:17 Whereas, if she was caching in private, she was happy to cache in sunny and shady spots.
00:27:22 We've even shown that these kind of cache protection tactics that the birds do, so moving the caches,
00:27:30 hiding in shady spots and so on and so forth. That they're only done by experienced birds.
00:27:37 Naive birds who've had no experience with stealing caches don't do it.
00:27:41 So it's not just a hard wired instinctive ability. More evidence that it's theory of mind.
00:27:49 Once you've had the experience of stealing yourself you can put yourselves in another's shoes
00:27:53 and go well if I was that bird I would be watching where those caches were.
00:27:58 And I'd come back and steal them so I better move them to new places.
00:28:02 But they only engage in those tactics when they themselves have been thieves. It's really quite impressive.
00:28:08 Speaker 2: But that sounds very interesting and you convinced me of those crows being very smart,
00:28:16 or of capable of thinking, of solving problems. What are you interested in?
00:28:23 In how crows record family things or do you, in the end, want to find out how we think?
00:28:34 Nicky: Both. Both.
00:28:36 So, I would argue in the same way as if you want to know how a computer works,
00:28:43 you wouldn't want to only use an Apple Mac.
00:28:45 You'd want to also look at how a PC works and see the similarities and differences in your types of computer.
00:28:53 In order to have a better understanding of how computers work.
00:28:57 In the same way I'm gonna to have a better understanding, I think,
00:29:02 about how our brains work if I look at similarities and differences between crows and people.
00:29:10 Because crows are very distantly related to us, we share a common ancestor with them over 300 million years ago.
00:29:19 Well, we as humans, we as mammals, it depends how you want to look at it, but birds
00:29:27 and mammals had a common ancestor over 300 million years ago.
00:29:31 So there's been a long time in our evolutionary history in which we've been diverging,
00:29:35 we've been going down different paths. And our brains and those of other mammals are layered.
00:29:43 So our cortex has six layers to it, whereas the bird brain doesn't have layers, it's nucleated.
00:29:49 So the analogy might be that a bird brain on a mammalian brain or a human brain,
00:29:55 they're both full of these nerve cells that are so important for thinking processes.
00:30:01 And my analogy would be, if I imagine cakes, the bird brain is like a fruit cake,
00:30:08 and the mammalian brain is like a six-layered Austrian chocolate cake, the Sachertorte.
00:30:13 So they're both made of cake mix, but the structure or the layout, the architecture, is actually quite different.
00:30:20 So that then raises interesting questions about whether those different neuro-architectures might impose different
00:30:29 constraints on our thinking pattern.
00:30:30 Speaker 2: Well, what did you learn from the crows, so far?
00:30:38 Nicky: Well, many things. So firstly, we've learnt that they have really sophisticated cognitive abilities.
00:30:46 So there are a number of things that were thought to be unique to human beings.
00:30:50 So at one time it was said that tool manufacture is uniquely human and then they discovered that well, no,
00:30:57 chimps use tools.
00:30:58 We've now found that all the crows that we've tested, all the different species, will happily use tools
00:31:07 and even make them even though they don't necessarily use tools in the wild.
00:31:11 So New Caledonian crows rely heavily on tools to find food in the wild but mocks and jays don't but they will use
00:31:21 and make tools in the lab if they're given a task that requires one.
00:31:26 Speaker 2: Also you can stimulate the thinking process.
00:31:30 Nicky: Yes, so normally a rook has a very long bill,
00:31:36 and the kinds of foods that they eat are usually things like earthworms in the soil.
00:31:41 So for that you don't need a tool, you just need to insert your beak deep into the soil.
00:31:47 And they have bare patches around their faces, which are probably an adaptation for being able to dig the earthworms
00:31:54 and the other grubs that are in the soil. But for that you don't need a tool.
00:31:58 But, if you give them a task in the Lab where they will need a tool in order to reach the food.
00:32:06 They will happily use tools, make tools.
00:32:09 Speaker 2: Can we see them? Do you have any proof or evidence?
00:32:14 Nicky: I can show you some video footage of spontaneously taking a piece of wire
00:32:21 and bending it into a hook to retrieve a bucket that's out of it's reach.
00:32:25 And I can show you rooks and jays using stones and other objects to raise the water level to get worms.
00:32:32 Speaker 2: The Belgian Truffle?
00:32:36 Nicky: The Belgian Truffle. So we've got a lot of video footage
00:32:40 Speaker 2: Great.
00:32:40 Nicky: We can show you all that tomorrow and you can have copies of anything you'd like.
00:32:45 Speaker 2: Great. So how do we as humans, our species, benefit from what you learned from crows?
00:32:50 Nicky: How do we benefit?
00:32:57 Well, I think people are fascinated by animals and a lot of people would love to go far away
00:33:08 and see chimpanzees in the wild, making tools and interacting. And we all love the footage.
00:33:17 The whole idea that these feathered apes are actually in the back garden is pretty stunning, I think,
00:33:26 in that you could actually watch them solving problems in action.
00:33:31 And it's not just tool use, that was one thing that was viewed as uniquely human. We now know it's not.
00:33:38 And why is that interesting?
00:33:40 Well, it's one of a number of things that we thought was, perhaps,
00:33:45 responsible for how we've come to get our sophisticated cognitive abilities.
00:33:52 But, if these birds have it too then we are not unique.
00:33:57 So either that means that a lot more animals out there have it than we thought
00:34:02 or it means that only a select few have it
00:34:05 and in which case probably these abilities have evolved in very different animals with very different brains,
00:34:13 but probably for a similar reason. That raises a question of what is that similar reason.
00:34:19 Is it because of needing to be innovative problem solvers and therefore to be able to make tours if we need them,
00:34:30 or is it because of complex social lives?
00:34:33 The fact that we form long term relationships with others that we are very good at being able to detect who's honest,
00:34:46 and who's cheating.
00:34:48 We're able to form alliances and political maneuvers to strengthen our own chance of overcoming our enemies.
00:34:58 Politics is a good example of that.
00:35:00 We know that the chimpanzees form complex relationships, alliances and can do these kind of primate politics.
00:35:09 More recently we discovered that these corvins, these members of the crow family, like the rooks and the ravens
00:35:16 and the jays can do that, form these complex social relationships too. So I think it raises-
00:35:24 Speaker 2: Like can you give examples? The social relations were you prepared to use?
00:35:30 Can they fall in love, for example?
00:35:31 Nicky: Well, they pair for life, that's for sure. I've been very worried when one night.
00:35:37 I remember when two of our jackdaws, you'll like this because the jackdaws were named after ethologists.
00:35:45 So we have Niko Tinbergen [LAUGH] and Konrad Lorenz.
00:35:50 And when Konrad Lorenz died, the jackdaw Conrad Lorenz, as opposed to the human Konrad Lorenz,
00:35:57 Niko was absolutely devastated and just stopped eating and hardly moved for about a week.
00:36:05 And I was really worried we were going to lose him.
00:36:09 Eventually he was all right, but it looked to me like emotional devastation,
00:36:18 course it's very difficult to know exactly how you would say whether another bird was in love
00:36:24 but certainly in terms of their behavior it was consistent with being in love and then being bereft,
00:36:31 but they usually pair for life. So they form these very stable, long term, monogamous relationships.
00:36:40 Speaker 2: Is it also an evolutionary process that they pair for life?
00:36:44 Nicky: Well certainly in things like jackdraws it's very important if you're to defend a nest cavity
00:36:52 and have offspring, it takes two. And a lone jackdraw is right down the bottom of the pecking order.
00:36:59 So you don't want to just find a mate, produce young, and then go off and find another one when you need them.
00:37:06 You really need to stay as a couple.
00:37:10 We also know in the jays, for example, that during the breeding season the male will feed the female.
00:37:17 This courtship feeding is very common in a number of birds.
00:37:21 It's just that in the jays they do it very delicately which means that we can actually see,
00:37:26 and I can show you footage of this, what the male feeds the female.
00:37:32 So we can actually see the items being physically transferred from his beak to her beak.
00:37:38 So we can count what kinds of food and how many, so we can quantify the food sharing.
00:37:43 And what we've been able to show is is series of experiments is that the male jay is able to feed the female what she
00:37:54 wants even if that's quite different to what he wants.
00:37:58 So, for example, if I've just seen you eat a whole box of chocolates, Alex,
00:38:05 and then you've maybe left a couple at the end.
00:38:07 So I'm pretty sure you're full of chocolate, even though I like chocolate,
00:38:12 I could infer that you're done with the chocolates now, you're probably going to want something different to eat.
00:38:18 Well the jays can also do that.
00:38:21 They can ignore their own desire of what they want in order to cater for what their female wants.
00:38:27 Speaker 2: Can you say that thinking is a evolutionary process, so if it develops in the crow's mind or crow's brain,
00:38:46 can you say that our own thinking is developing as well? Can you develop thinking?
00:38:55 Nicky: Yes, I mean, you know, young children are not very good at certain aspects of thinking.
00:39:01 So for example,
00:39:02 children before the age of four don't understand what a lie is because they can't understand that your point of view
00:39:09 could be different from my point of view.
00:39:12 So there's a famous task called the Sally-Anne task which we'll demonstrate for you tomorrow that illustrates this,
00:39:18 where you ask a little child.
00:39:21 Say there's one dolly that has seen an item being hidden in one box and then that dolly goes out of the room.
00:39:28 And then the food is then moved from that box to a new box, the little child won't understand that Sally,
00:39:37 who'd left the room, doesn't know that the toy was moved here because all Sally saw was it go in the first box.
00:39:44 The little child, well she, Sally knows just what she knows, which is that the toy is now in this box not in that box.
00:39:53 And similarly, young children don't have a concept of yesterday and tomorrow.
00:40:00 Neither of those things, the ability to think about other minds. And to think about other times.
00:40:05 Those two things don't develop until children reach about the age of four.
00:40:09 Speaker 2: But I mean of course in people's lives, thinking develops.
00:40:17 But I mean for our species does the thinking develop, say in one out of 1000 years, or in a million years,
00:40:27 do we have developed another kind of thinking? [INAUDIBLE]
00:40:31 Nicky: Well, that's an interesting question, isn't it? The extent to which our thinking changes.
00:40:38 At one level, you could sort of say our brains haven't really changed much since beginning of humans, if you like.
00:40:49 And so there's probably a sense in which we're not any more intelligent now than we were.
00:40:57 Well I'm going to give you two alternative arguments.
00:41:00 Okay, so the one case would be our brains haven't changed, so probably at least since our ability to read and write,
00:41:09 our thinking skills haven't improved. We're probably no more or less intelligent than we were then.
00:41:17 The other line of argument would be to say, well I don't know whether our intelligence, per se, has changed.
00:41:26 But our thinking patterns may well have done.
00:41:30 The whole notion that we live in a digital age, what has that done to our brains?
00:41:37 So most people, I think don't tend to remember telephone numbers any more.
00:41:42 You just pick up your mobile phone and hit your search list and press the button.
00:41:49 We have computers and iPhones
00:41:53 and iPads that allow us to record information in ways which I think is fundamentally changing how we think.
00:42:02 I'll give you just one example in an area that I happen to know about, which of course is dance,
00:42:09 and in both contemporary dance and in ballet, when you develop a new choreographic work.
00:42:23 In the olden days, everything used to be written down through particular notation, [INAUDIBLE] notation.
00:42:33 And of course there was a bit of ambiguity when you come to reinterpret the story.
00:42:40 If you go back and look at the original [INAUDIBLE] and you want to make a new production,
00:42:46 as did in 2012,and you want to stick as closely to what you think was meant by the original terminology.
00:42:56 It's all a series of notations, which describe the basic moods, but, obviously,
00:43:02 there's going to be some ambiguity in what those things mean, in the same way as if you were a film maker.
00:43:10 And you want to develop a new version of a particular series based on book.
00:43:16 Of course there's the information in the book, but then there's the layers on top of that that need interpreting.
00:43:23 But of course these days in dance, what most choreographers do, Is to record it.
00:43:29 Now, you don't have that same level of interpretation, you just watch the video footage of the piece.
00:43:41 So that's a way in which our thinking probably has changed.
00:43:46 There are a lot of people, it's not my area,
00:43:48 but there are a lot of people obviously studying things like how Twitter and Facebook
00:43:54 and those forms of social media are affecting the way in which our social interactions work. So I-
00:44:04 Speaker 2: But can you say that if our thinking develops
00:44:09 and I mean in the future we will develop another way of thinking-
00:44:12 Nicky: Well that's really exciting question, I think.
00:44:16 Speaker 2: What is?
00:44:17 Nicky: Well the question of whether by understanding more about how we think now, we could find new ways of thinking.
00:44:26 So I think that's the golden nugget that It's very interesting to think with words and without words.
00:44:34 The work that I do with [INAUDIBLE] one of our big goals and big picture, blue skies question, is whether
00:44:43 and to what extent it's possible to think beyond words.
00:44:47 And that's why we're so interested in looking at the constraints on our cognition,
00:44:53 the patterns of thinking to see if that would generate new ways of thinking.
00:44:58 I guess it's one of the main goals of art, is to examine ideas.
00:45:06 So, I think one of the things we're interested in looking at constraints on our memories
00:45:15 and our perceptions as being the first baby steps in that direction, cuz that's a [INAUDIBLE] question.
00:45:21 We're not going to solve that question, but we might get a step closer to it.
00:45:26 So it's trying to understand why is it we miss so much of what happened and we miss so much of what we see.
00:45:37 Speaker 2: Is it?
00:45:38 Nicky: Yeah, I think that's a really interesting question.
00:45:41 Speaker 2: Do we miss a lot?
00:45:42 Nicky: Yeah.
00:45:43 Speaker 2: Can you explain that?
00:45:45 Nicky: Well if we didn't, all magicians would be out of business wouldn't they?
00:45:52 Because the magic effect capitalizes on the fact that there are a number of things that go on in a sequence that makes
00:46:03 if we saw every move that the magician made in executing the fact, it wouldn't work as a magic trick.
00:46:11 We'd go, thanks a lot. Why are you wasting my time?
00:46:16 It's the fact that we know jolly well that that can't literally have vanished in thin air, and yet our eyes
00:46:25 and our visual cortex, our mind, is telling us that that's precisely what happened.
00:46:30 Speaker 2: So, it's a challenge between tricks or magic and how we think.
00:46:35 Nicky: Well, that's just one example.
00:46:37 Another example would be with memory, so that would be say tea lead should be catch,
00:46:43 kind of an interacting because it is probably more powerful than two of us.
00:46:46 But there's a phrase that we really like to use which is you do not remember what happened,
00:46:52 what you remember becomes what happened. So the whole idea that actually, and we all know this.
00:47:00 Speaker 2: Can you say that again?
00:47:01 Nicky: Yeah, you don't remember what happened, what you remember becomes what happened.
00:47:08 So, I think many people have had this experience.
00:47:12 You've not seen a friend for years and you reminisce about, and if you went to it, it was a very memorable event,
00:47:22 and it was a treasured memory for both of you.
00:47:25 And you start comparing notes about the event, and you realize that your memories of the event don't match totally.
00:47:33 Speaker 2: That's interesting.
00:47:35 Nicky: You have a memory that she was wearing a beautiful pair of red shoes and she says, no, no, they were black.
00:47:47 And she has a memory that you had a glass of champagne and you said no, no, I was drinking, I was driving,
00:47:54 I was just drinking coconut water. And you're like well how can this be? How can our memories.
00:48:00 And these are good friends, you know, we thought similarly. I'm not sharing this with an alien from another planet.
00:48:08 His memory's just rubbish, or her memory's just inaccurate.
00:48:12 You suddenly realize that there's a whole mismatch, it's how false memories work.
00:48:15 Speaker 2: Can you compare a thought with something unique like your eyes or your face or your.
00:48:34 Is it unique the way you think?
00:48:37 Nicky: Well I think memories are unique, yes.
00:48:41 I think it's very interesting that we often think of memory as being an active repository of the past. But it isn't.
00:48:49 Our memories are extremely subjective and they're seen through our own eyes.
00:48:54 So in our work with the captured thought, Clive and I talked about memories being the door to identity,
00:49:03 because our memories shape who we are.
00:49:06 And identities, our individuality shapes the way in which we choose to record
00:49:14 and remember those instances that then become our memories. And that's why we don't remember what actually happened.
00:49:28 We have a subjective take on it, we remember those bits that are of interest and relevance to us.
00:49:36 And quite often we can discover that there are aspects of our memory that didn't even happen at all
00:49:43 or happened in quite a different way.
00:49:46 We can do that by sharing our memories with others and discovering there are bits of my memory
00:49:53 and your memory of the same event that don't match.
00:49:56 There is a lot of research that is been done on the notion of false memory by Elizabeth Lofsters,
00:50:02 where she's found that,
00:50:04 the way which you phrase the question can bias people to remember things in quite a different way than the way it
00:50:15 actually happened. So you might show somebody a footage of an event.
00:50:20 Let's say it's a car going at 20 miles an hour or 40 miles an hour,
00:50:27 but actually the way in which you phrase the question afterwards that the car smashed into the lorry.
00:50:34 Or the car bumped into the lorry will have a much more dramatic impact on the memory that that person has of the event
00:50:43 than the actual speed that the car was going. False memory-
00:50:48 Speaker 2: Memories, yeah.
00:50:49 Nicky: Yes, memory.
00:50:50 Speaker 2: Yeah, does it mean that the way we remember. You said that determines our identity.
00:51:01 Nicky: That's right.
00:51:03 Speaker 2: So it's very personal the way you think.
00:51:06 Nicky: Yeah, yeah. Memories are subjective experiences.
00:51:12 Speaker 2: So there are no two memories alike from different persons.
00:51:17 Nicky: Well I think that they're all different.
00:51:21 Even if it's with a loved one with whom you're very close and feel that you think in the same way.
00:51:29 Your memories are still going to be slightly different because they're seen through a different set of eyes.
00:51:36 And they're being filtered through a different mind, because everybody's experiences are different from one another.
00:51:44 So I think even two identical twins would still have slightly different memories.
00:51:49 Speaker 2: Well, that's interesting. I never looked at it like that.
00:51:56 I thought, well, if you have been at the same occasion, then you must remember same things.
00:52:02 Nicky: Yeah, yeah but, we put our own subjective stamp on it.
00:52:06 And, that's, I think, where integrating science
00:52:10 and the arts just to do these kinds of questions becomes so important and, so insightful.
00:52:18 Because, it's easy, as a scientist just to think very objectively,
00:52:22 and go these are the things that have been remembered. Here's a list of things that happened in this event.
00:52:31 It happened in this particular room at this time of day on a particular date.
00:52:37 She was wearing this, he was wearing that. But that's not how our memories work. They're not just the series of labels.
00:52:44 Speaker 2: And a series of facts.
00:52:45 Nicky: A series of facts.
00:52:47 It's about the emotional experience and that's the difference perhaps between,
00:52:56 that's one aspect of why I would call it a thought.
00:53:01 A series of facts or labels could be extremely objective but your thoughts are personal and they're subjective
00:53:12 and sometimes they can change depending on how you're feeling on a particular day.
00:53:16 So you may revisit a memory and in consequence of which you actually change it.
00:53:22 You don't just revisit it and go down the list of things that happened
00:53:27 but all of a sudden because of something else you've discovered in the interim
00:53:32 or because of a different mood that you're in or well-being, you reshape it.
00:53:39 Speaker 2: So can you say that the factual memory or the fact you remember are objective?
00:53:49 But because who you are and because there's time that it gets filtered through your mind, gets subjective.
00:54:04 And then that's how a thought is created?
00:54:08 Nicky: Well sort of. I think it's a bit more complex than that.
00:54:12 Speaker 2: More complex?
00:54:13 Nicky: Yeah, well I think that there are factual labels that we remember with precision.
00:54:22 London's the capital of England. No idea how I know that information.
00:54:26 I don't have a memory of how I learned the information. But it's just something I know. And that's not going to change.
00:54:32 I'm not going to revisit my knowledge that the fact that London is the capital of England, that's not going to change.
00:54:41 But much of our memories are not purely factually based. They have all these other components to them.
00:54:50 And the difference there I think arises A, because we've each got a unique pair of eyes
00:54:57 and a unique mind that's filtering all those things as you've said.
00:55:03 But I think it's also because we're selective in our attention. So we also don't see everything that's going on.
00:55:11 And, therefore, for another reason why we might have different memories of the event,
00:55:16 quite aside from with our different eyes, and different minds, is that, my viewpoint of what I see,
00:55:22 is different to your viewpoint of what you see.
00:55:26 So, we can both be looking at the bird, and I know that when you're looking at the bird,
00:55:32 there's stuff behind me that you're going to see.
00:55:36 And similarly you know that when I'm looking at the bird, I can see Clive,
00:55:41 and I can see the background wall over there, which is not something that you can see at the moment,
00:55:46 because you're looking at the bird, and you're looking at me.
00:55:48 So, that's the selective attention difference, as well as a filtering difference. So, that's what I meant.
00:55:55 Does that make sense?
00:55:56 Speaker 2: Yeah, I think I understand.
00:55:58 Surely When you try to research crowds or children, how hard is it to, try to, understand alien brains?
00:56:17 Nicky: Yes well it's.
00:56:19 Speaker 2: Is it alien?
00:56:21 Nicky: Well, I suppose it depends on your point of view.
00:56:25 I've spent so many years trying to think about what its like to be a bird that, for me, it's not very alien at all.
00:56:33 But at another level, of course, it's alien.
00:56:35 Because however hard I try to imagine what it's like to be a crow, I'm not a crow and I never will be sadly.
00:56:45 And however much I think about how children might be thinking it's a long time, sadly, since I was a child.
00:56:53 And even when I was a child, I wasn't the same as the children I'm investigating.
00:56:59 Because we've all these individual, subjective differences we've been talking about.
00:57:05 So, all you can do scientifically, I think, is to present various kinds of problem
00:57:13 and ask how the subjects be them crows or children or adult humans are solving the task.
00:57:21 That's what you're trying to do.
00:57:22 You're trying to look at what the constraints on the thinking are, what the milestones are,
00:57:28 and how much individual differences there are in what those milestones are both within children and within the crows.
00:57:39 Speaker 2: What exactly are you looking for?
00:57:42 Nicky: I don't know what you mean by that.
00:57:46 Speaker 2: Well, somehow you feel the need to research this, find out how thinking works
00:57:59 and somehow try to find a kind of secret, cuz we don't know and you want to find out.
00:58:08 Nicky: That's right. I'm interested in knowing what the constraints are on our thinking processes. And thinking about-
00:58:21 Speaker 2: But is there a reason why you do this?
00:58:25 Nicky: Well, I've always wanted to know what it's like to think like a bird.
00:58:35 That's for sure, but I'm also interested in knowing whether there are new ways of thinking that we are not aware of.
00:58:47 But by understanding better what some of these constraints are on our thinking processes that might give us clues into
00:58:57 what these new ways of thinking might be. And, that's where the work that I do with Clive on the couch of thought.
00:59:04 That's where that is so critical because by bringing in these different perspectives
00:59:10 and trying to understand more about what those fundamental features are,
00:59:15 that might help us better understand how we could improve our thinking skills
00:59:22 or thinking new ways that we're not aware of at the moment.
00:59:26 Speaker 2: Are you able to think in different ways?
00:59:32 Nicky: Yes, I think so. I mean, I think-
00:59:37 Speaker 2: So you can think in words?
00:59:39 Nicky: I think most of us can think without words as well.
00:59:46 As I said to you before, when Clive and I were dancing tango together I am not.
00:59:53 Speaker 2: But, I try to understand because if I think what I probably thinking works
01:00:01 but I never had a thought about it. So, I try to be aware of the ways I can think.
01:00:12 Nicky: Okay, well.
01:00:13 Speaker 2: Our viewers can think.
01:00:15 Nicky: Yeah, well, let me try to think of an example then of something more simple. Do you like wine?
01:00:24 Speaker 2: Mm-hm.
01:00:25 Nicky: Imagine I've just poured you a glass of wine. You take a sip of it.
01:00:32 It's really nice, it's the nicest wine you can ever remember tasting.
01:00:37 If you have this gorgeous experience,
01:00:40 words aren't really going to describe for you that experience of the taste of that exquisite wine..
01:00:48 We use artificial words [INAUDIBLE] We say this one's got lots of cherries and black currant
01:00:54 but it's a glass of wine and it's made from grape juice. There aren't any cherries or blackcurrants really in there.
01:01:02 There are only labels that we're trying to attach to these things to share our experiences of this thing that's really
01:01:11 an experience. It's not and the words are only a rough approximation of the way of sharing the experiences.
01:01:22 So that's the kind of thing that I suppose I mean.
01:01:25 And somehow just putting words on it in the same way as with the tango.
01:01:32 Just saying well Clive led me into a backward arch sort of thing.
01:01:39 It doesn't describe the exquisite experience of dancing tango.
01:01:46 It’s just a label for whether I've put my feet forward or backwards, but it doesn't really capture.
01:01:55 It captures the tiniest little aspect of that.
01:01:59 Speaker 2: So, words fall short.
01:02:02 Nicky: Words fall short, yeah.
01:02:04 Speaker 2: For thinking.
01:02:06 Nicky: For thinking.
01:02:07 Speaker 2: I never looked at it like that.
01:02:12 Speaker 2: Is it possible not to think?
01:02:25 Nicky: Yes, when you're dead. [LAUGH] I think it's pretty impossible not to think when you're alive though.
01:02:43 Whether you're aware of the sorts is another matter.
01:02:47 So, there are very interesting cases of people who don't necessarily have conscious access to their thoughts.
01:03:00 Classic case of that would be an amnesic with severe memory loss who doesn't have access to.
01:03:07 They've witnessed the event, but somehow the events haven't been,
01:03:10 they don't have conscious access to what happened at all, or patients with blind sight who can see
01:03:20 but they're not aware that they can see.
01:03:23 So, if you ask them did you see that, they say no, no, I haven't seen anything, I'm blind.
01:03:31 But then if you say just guess, they're highly accurate.
01:03:34 So their eyes have seen it but their brain hasn't registered the information that they're actually seeing it.
01:03:40 Speaker 2: Have you ever considered the thought that when you die, that the only thing that survives are your thoughts?
01:03:53 Nicky: No.
01:03:54 Speaker 2: To come up with it, because you say well you stop thinking when you're dead,
01:04:04 but maybe then only your body dies.
01:04:07 Speaker 2: Do you understand what I mean?
01:04:09 Nicky: Yeah, but where would those thoughts go?
01:04:11 Speaker 2: I don't know. [LAUGH]
01:04:16 Speaker 2: I'm trying to think out loud because just-
01:04:21 Nicky: Yeah.
01:04:21 Speaker 2: Maybe that would be interesting because it's hard not to think.
01:04:28 Speaker 3: The thoughts do carry on in actual fact, because they carried on within culture and within society,
01:04:35 aren't they? [CROSSTALK] Music by Beethoven for example.
01:04:39 Speaker 2: It's a bit hard to, if you answer the questions and we cannot film you, you understand? [CROSSTALK]
01:04:45 Speaker 2: I'm just adding something to your question.
01:04:46 Nicky: Yeah. [CROSSTALK]
01:04:48 Speaker 2: That's why I didn't listen too well.
01:04:51 Speaker 3: Maybe you can- I was only prompting you to ask the next question,
01:04:57 which was that the thoughts of one person don't necessarily die when they die,
01:05:04 if those ideas are culturally relevant- [CROSSTALK] transferred to their
01:05:07 Speaker 2: Okay.
01:05:08 Nicky: Thank you, Donald, it's good, yeah.
01:05:13 Speaker 2: That's a good, so, I suppose that's. [INAUDIBLE]
01:05:16 Nicky: I suppose that's where memory as a shared experience comes in. That although the-
01:05:23 Speaker 2: So, where does it come in?
01:05:26 Nicky: Memory as a shared experience comes in.
01:05:31 The whole idea is that although your thoughts and your memories are individual, they're personal and subjective to you,
01:05:38 you can nonetheless share them with others.
01:05:41 And in multiple ways, right, you can share them by discussing with one another, like we're doing here.
01:05:48 You can share them by creating something exquisite, like a Beethoven symphony,
01:05:57 that lives on long after Beethoven himself.
01:06:04 Or a beautiful piece of literature that the author dies, but nonetheless,
01:06:11 all the thoughts as represented in the novel remain. So in all those ways their thoughts can live on.
01:06:20 Although of course, there's a sense in which they live on and a sense in which they die.
01:06:25 Because the subjective experience of the originator of the thought, those thoughts have died.
01:06:32 But the shared experience of the thoughts, in the way in which those thoughts interpreted by others, live on.
01:06:41 And I suppose that's what history does, isn't it? You have these ideas that are recorded.
01:06:46 But actually as others revisit the history, just as a memory is changed when it's revisited, so is history,
01:06:57 so are the thoughts. So there's a level at which they live on, but they don't, they are changed.
01:07:04 Speaker 2: But they also get richer somehow, because now we know this music and this music and this music,
01:07:15 and still we manage to make new music which is beautiful.
01:07:22 Nicky: Yeah, yeah, and the way in which it's interpreted will change, because of the new technologies,
01:07:28 because of the new experiences.
01:07:30 Speaker 2: Yeah.
01:07:31 Nicky: So, in a way these thoughts
01:07:35 and these memories are much more than just this little snippet of factual accurate information about the past.
01:07:47 They infuse and purveyed our history and our culture.
01:07:55 Speaker 2: Good and bad.
01:07:56 Nicky: Good and bad, and our evolution, if you like, as a species.
01:07:59 Speaker 2: So why do you want to fly? [LAUGH]
01:08:05 Nicky: I don't know how to put that into words really. I've always been,
01:08:17 Nicky: Fascinated by what it's like to be at the,
01:08:24 I've always been fascinated with being able to move in a three dimensional world instead of being stuck on terra firma.
01:08:33 Nicky: It's just, it feels like it's a fundamental feature of me. And yet, somehow I have difficulty verbalizing it.
01:08:49 Perhaps, because the kind of subjective experiences and thoughts associated with wanting to fly
01:08:57 and wanting to be a bird are largely wordless.
01:09:04 Speaker 2: So what is it, is it onwards? Is it onward?
01:09:11 Nicky: Thoughts, we're just thoughts, yeah.
01:09:17 Speaker 2: But somehow, there has to be original view as a child thinking, I would like to fly.
01:09:27 Nicky: I suppose it's the freedom, isn't it?
01:09:31 The whole idea of being able to explore the world from up above, to be in the sky and look down and see more
01:09:41 and see further.
01:09:42 Nicky: And just see that you could have a totally different perspective on how the world looks.
01:09:52 Speaker 2: You still have this wish?
01:09:54 Nicky: Yeah, yeah, yeah, very much so.
01:09:57 Nicky: But somehow I didn't have words that really do it justice.
01:10:07 Speaker 2: Is this a wish you have all your life?
01:10:11 Nicky: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
01:10:13 Speaker 2: And, how do you keep this alive? But do you keep these alive, or do you need this idea to keep on going?
01:10:24 Nicky: [LAUGH] I don't think about it like that, it's just part of me.
01:10:28 Speaker 2: Yeah, well, I don't think of flying like a bird. So, there's something inside you, which,
01:10:37 Nicky: Well I suppose we all have our spirituality, don't we?
01:10:45 We all have those things that we identify as being sort of core features of ourselves.
01:10:51 And the different people are different things, but.
01:10:55 Speaker 2: Mm-hm.
01:10:56 Speaker 2: Yeah, so when we go tomorrow, to this lab.
01:11:04 Nicky: Yep.
01:11:05 Speaker 2: We will see a lot of children?
01:11:08 Speaker 2: Or is that tomorrow?
01:11:10 Nicky: Yeah, we're doing children tomorrow and the day after, I believe. Elsa's got a little program.
01:11:16 Speaker 2: So what do you hope to find out with these deaths or procedures or with children?
01:11:28 Nicky: Let's talk about that when we do though, cuz there's lot of different ones.
01:11:31 Speaker 2: Okay.
01:11:32 Nicky: So I'd rather kind of do it with the tests there, cuz otherwise it's gonna be a bit jumbled and jarbled,
01:11:39 I think.
01:11:39 Speaker 2: Yeah,so when you dance, you dance everywhere?
01:11:42 Nicky: What do you mean?
01:11:46 Speaker 2: Well, did you dance outside, or at home, or at a lab, or at a club?
01:11:56 This dancing, you mean, this Tango dancing? Where do you do that?
01:12:02 Nicky: We go to Melongas, which are dance halls, that's the main place you do tango.
01:12:10 And we do them in our talks and performances.
01:12:12 Speaker 2: Okay.
01:12:12 Nicky: I guess sometime we dance at home.
01:12:15 Speaker 2: The last question is, why the tango because you're both not from Argentina?
01:12:24 Nicky: Gosh I don't know how to answer that. It's the poetry of movement, I think, tango.
01:12:33 It's such a beautiful dance because it's, you're so connected with your partner. They talk about it as being four legs.
01:12:42 An animal with four legs and two beating hearts, cuz you're so connected. So there's many forms of dance that I love.
01:12:53 I like ballet and salsa's great fun,
01:12:57 but there's something very powerful about tango because of the connection you have with your partner, so the leader
01:13:06 and the follower, and the way in which you respond as one to the music. I think it's very, very special.
01:13:13 Speaker 2: Does every scientist have this artist inside?
01:13:19 Nicky: Sorry, does every?
01:13:22 Speaker 2: Does every scientist have an artist inside?
01:13:25 Nicky: I don't know.
01:13:26 Nicky: It's not very common is it to be a scientist and be an artist in residence somewhere. And equally, of course.
01:13:36 Speaker 2: The other way around.
01:13:38 Nicky: There's artists in residence in the psychology department.
01:13:41 So I think we've got something there that is quite unique.
01:13:45 You do hear of artists in residence, but typically, they're short term residences of three months of most the year.
01:13:54 And usually it's the artist comes in to a place, talks to people and then creates a piece of art.
01:14:01 Where as I think that for captured thought what Clive and I do is truly collaborative.
01:14:11 It's not Clive comes and has a cup of coffee with me and then creates something.
01:14:17 I have a chat with Clive and we go off and do an experiment. And occasionally we meet up and talk about them.
01:14:22 I mean the whole project that we're doing is interwoven together.
01:14:30 So all our talks are written jointly and performed jointly.
01:14:37 And you might think of it as being 50% Nicki and 50% Clive, but really it's more like two percent Nicki
01:14:53 and two percent Clive and 96% licking Clive integrated
01:15:00 and two percent I'm only saying because obviously one voice is speaking while the other is silent and then vice versa.
01:15:07 But all the thoughts and all the ideas are, have collaborative mixture, and I hope
01:15:21 and I think that as a result it's like a Gestalt phenomenon that we are being able to share more
01:15:30 and do more than either of us could do alone.
01:15:34 I certainly feel that I wouldn't have got so nearly so far in my thinking about things if it hadn't been for Clive
01:15:40 and I collaborating. And it's not just an odd discussion here and there.
01:15:44 It really is this integrated, interwoven working together and thinking together.
01:15:52 And trying to make new connections between disparate sources, that alone I wouldn't have thought of.
01:16:00 But together, with Clive, we can kind of push each other to explore further.
01:16:09 So that's why I feel that it's more than what you normally see in a collaboration. It's an integration.
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