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Imagination: the door to identity

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Re-living memories and imagining future scenarios lies at the heart of humanity. The very nature of imagination impedes and disorientates memories, and diversifies reality. We make use of this to define multiple realities, coexisting side by side. But are we unique among the animal kingdom in traveling mentally in time?

About the speakers

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.

In addition to scientific research and teaching, she is a dancer, specializing in tango and salsa. She is also Scientist in Residence at the Rambert Dance Company, collaborating with Mark Baldwin, the Artistic Director, on new choreographic works inspired by science.

Her most recent collaboration with artist Clive Wilkins arose out of their mutual interest in imagination, and its consequences for consciousness, identity and memory. They also regularly dance tango together.

Clive Wilkins works as a fine art painter and has exhibited widely, including at the National Portrait Gallery, London on several occasions. He has also exhibited at the Royal Academy and in private galleries in Cork Street, London – where he had a one man show in 2007. His work can be found in public and private collections.

He is a performer and magician and is particularly interested in the nature of illusion and the psychology of perception and the chosen ways we adopt to make sense of a strange world.

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