photo credit: Heikki Rasilo

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I'm a cognitive scientist studying the computational foundations of human behaviour, specialising in language and the evolutionary processes that make it possible. I am a postdoc in the Computational Cognitive Science Lab at UC Berkley and a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.

My research combines methods from experimental psychology, artificial intelligence, evolutionary theory, and computational linguistics to understand the nature of human uniqueness from a computational perspective. My work revolves around the idea that human-scale intelligence results from a unique capacity to pool computation over generations by sharing our thoughts. I study the languages we speak as paradigm examples of this capacity.

Previously, I held a postdoc position in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Free University of Brussels (VUB), and did my PhD work with Simon Kirby and Kenny Smith at The University of Edinburgh.


    • [pending] Iconicity in Signed and Spoken Vocabulary: A Comparison between American Sign Language, British Sign Language, English, and Spanish
      by Perlman, Marcus and Little, Hannah and Thompson, Bill and Thompson, Robin (2017)
      Submitted to Frontiers in Language

    • [pending] Why do rhythms have integer ratios? Linking scalar timing and oscillatory frameworks
      by Ravignani, Andrea and Thompson, Bill (2018)
      Submitted to Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience

    • Interpreting Silent Gesture
      by Thompson, Bill and Schouwstra, Marieke and de Swart, Henri\backslash"ette (2016)
      The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference (EVOLANGX11),

    • Universality in Cultural Transmission
      by Thompson, Bill (2015)
      Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences Satelite Event: The Evolution of Phonetic Capacities,