Professor Nicky Clayton, FRS

Nicky Clayton,

University position


Professor Nicky Clayton, FRS is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Psychology


Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute


Home page (personal home page)

Research Theme

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience


Nicky studies the development and evolution of cognition in members of the crow family (including jackdaws, rooks and jays) and humans. Her work has challenged many of the common-held assumptions that only humans can plan for the future and reminisce about the past, and that only humans can understand other minds as well as other times. This work has led to a radical re-evaluation of animal cognition, and raises important issues about the evolution of cognition.

She is Scientist in Residence at Rambert working with Artistic Direct Mark Baldwin on choreographic works inspired by science e.g. Comedy of Change.

Nicky's most recent collaboration is with artist and write, Clive Wilkins,

who is Artist in Residence in the Psychology department. It arose out of their mutual interest in mental time trave. They also regularly dance tango together.

( ) You can watch there TEDx talk

Conversations without words here (

Research Focus


evolution and development of cognition

episodic memory

future planning

theory of mind


Clinical conditions

Links to amnesia


Behavioural analysis

Video and camera equipment



Anthony Dickinson

Rufous Johnstone

Andrea Manica

Jim Russell

United Kingdom

Rambert Dance Company Web:

Nathan Emery Web:

Murray Shanahan Web:


Cristina Atance Web:

Josep Call Web:

Barney Schlinger Web:

Key publications

Raby CR, Alexis DM, Dickinson A, Clayton NS (2007), “Planning for the future by Western Scrub-Jays” Nature 445:919-921 Details

Dally JM, Emery NJ, Clayton NS (2006), “Food-caching western scrub-jays keep track of who was watching when” Science 312(5780):1662-1665 Details

Emery NJ, Clayton NS (2004), “The mentality of crows. Convergent evolution of intelligence in corvids and apes” Science 306:1903-1907 Details



Davidson GL, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2014), “Salient eyes deter conspecific nest intruders in wild jackdaws (Corvus monedula).” Biol Lett 10(2):20131077 Details


Cheke LG, Clayton NS (2013), “Do different tests of episodic memory produce consistent results in human adults?” Learn Mem 20(9):491-8 Details

Jozet-Alves C, Bertin M, Clayton NS (2013), “Evidence of episodic-like memory in cuttlefish.” Curr Biol 23(23):R1033-5 Details

Ostojić L, Clayton NS (2013), “Inequity aversion in human adults: testing behavioural criteria from comparative cognition.” Anim Cogn 16(5):765-72 Details

Ostojić L, Shaw RC, Cheke LG, Clayton NS (2013), “Evidence suggesting that desire-state attribution may govern food sharing in Eurasian jays.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(10):4123-8 Details

Shaw RC, Clayton NS (2013), “Careful cachers and prying pilferers: Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) limit auditory information available to competitors.” Proc Biol Sci 280(1752):20122238 Details

Thom JM, Clayton NS (2013), “No evidence of temporal preferences in caching by Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica).” Behav Processes Details

Thom JM, Clayton NS (2013), “Re-caching by Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) cannot be attributed to stress.” PLoS One 8(1):e52936 Details

Watanabe A, Grodzinski U, Clayton NS (2013), “Western scrub-jays allocate longer observation time to more valuable information.” Anim Cogn Details

Ziauddeen H, Chamberlain SR, Nathan PJ, Koch A, Maltby K, Bush M, Tao WX, Napolitano A, Skeggs AL, Brooke AC, Cheke L, Clayton NS, Sadaf Farooqi I, O'Rahilly S, Waterworth D, Song K, Hosking L, Richards DB, Fletcher PC, Bullmore ET (2013), “Effects of the mu-opioid receptor antagonist GSK1521498 on hedonic and consummatory eating behaviour: a proof of mechanism study in binge-eating obese subjects.” Mol Psychiatry 18(12):1287-93 Details


Cheke LG, Clayton NS (2012), “Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) overcome their current desires to anticipate two distinct future needs and plan for them appropriately.” Biol Lett 8(2):171-5 Details

Cheke LG, Loissel E, Clayton NS (2012), “How do children solve Aesop's Fable?” PLoS One 7(7):e40574 Details


Cheke LG, Bird CD, Clayton NS (2011), “Tool-use and instrumental learning in the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius).” Anim Cogn 14(3):441-55 Details

Taylor AH, Elliffe DM, Hunt GR, Emery NJ, Clayton NS, Gray RD (2011), “New Caledonian crows learn the functional properties of novel tool types.” PLoS One 6(12):e26887 Details


Grodzinski U, Clayton NS (2010), “Problems faced by food-caching corvids and the evolution of cognitive solutions.” Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 365(1542):977-87 Details

Teufel C, Alexis DM, Clayton NS, Davis G (2010), “Mental-state attribution drives rapid, reflexive gaze following.” Atten Percept Psychophys 72(3):695-705 Details


Stulp G, Emery NJ, Verhulst S, Clayton NS (2009), “Western scrub-jays conceal auditory information when competitors can hear but cannot see.” Biol Lett 5(5):583-5 Details

Teufel C, Alexis DM, Todd H, Lawrance-Owen AJ, Clayton NS, Davis G (2009), “Social cognition modulates the sensory coding of observed gaze direction.” Curr Biol 19(15):1274-7 Details