Navigation Links
MIT: No easy answers in evolution of human language
Date:2/17/2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. The evolution of human speech was far more complex than is implied by some recent attempts to link it to a specific gene, says Robert Berwick, professor of computational linguistics at MIT.

Berwick will describe his ideas about language in a session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Sunday, Feb. 17. The session is called Mind of a Toolmaker, and explores the use of evolutionary research in understanding human abilities.

Some researchers in recent years have speculated that mutations in a gene called Foxp2 might have played a fundamental role in the evolution of human language. That was based on research showing that the gene seems to be connected to language ability because some mutations to that gene produce specific impairments to language use, and because our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, lack both these gene mutations and the capacity for language. But the claim that the gene mutation is directly connected to the development of language is very unlikely to be right, says Berwick, who holds appointments in MITs Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

This kind of straightforward connection is just not the way organisms are put together, he says. When it comes to something as complex as language, one would be hard-pressed to come up with an example less amenable to evolutionary study. And the specific Foxp2 connection is based on a whole chain of events, each of which is speculative, so theres little chance of the whole story being right.

Its so chaotic, its like weather forecasting, he says. The noise overwhelms the signal.

Rather, language is almost certainly the result of a far more complex and subtle interplay among a variety of factors, Berwick says, and it may never be possible to connect it to specific genetic changes. There are some things in science that are ver
'/>"/>

Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. Fungus genome yielding answers to protect grains, people and animals
2. Dartmouth researchers find the root of the evolutionary emergence of vertebrates
3. Tomato pathogen genome may offer clues about bacterial evolution at dawn of agriculture
4. Oldest Australian crayfish fossils provide missing evolutionary link
5. Lessons from evolution applied to national security and other threats
6. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa commits 180M to revive farmers depleted soils
7. Biophysical Society to host discussions on the teaching of evolution and on the energy crisis
8. Gene Networks in Animal Development and Evolution Feb. 15 and 16
9. Snoozing worms help Penn researchers explain the evolution of sleep
10. Evolution of the sexes: What a fungus can tell us
11. New book reveals an evolutionary journey of the human body
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:8/28/2014)... Energy production systems are good examples of complex ... like a networkincluding water for cooling, transport to ... management. Every step in the network chain is ... all mutually dependent. A team of UK-based scientists ... previously explored. The findings have been published in ...
(Date:8/28/2014)... pose a significant health risk to people with asthma according ... Allergy and Clinical Immunology . , By critically reviewing the ... has found that the presence of several types of mould ... as increasing the likelihood of developing the condition. , The ... of Exeter Medical School and is the first time all ...
(Date:8/28/2014)... countries will be fully saturated with pests by the ... to a new study led by the University of ... be found in around half the countries that grow ... current rate, scientists fear that a significant proportion of ... the next 30 years. , Crop pests include fungi, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):Inter-dependent networks stress test 2Indoor mold poses health risk to asthma sufferers 2New study charts the global invasion of crop pests 2
... will probably not be officially accepted at the climate ... way in the tropical region. The methods to ... resolution but full area coverage optical and radar satellite ... data and ground data. The very high resolution imagery, ...
... corn for biofuels production is having unintended effects on ... More water is required to produce corn than to ... of groundwater from the Mississippi River Valley alluvial (MRVA) ... water levels in the aquifer. In addition, increased ...
... PITTSBURGHObesity! It,s a national epidemic and on the ... problem, the University of Pittsburgh Physical Activity and Weight ... to Diet, Exercise, and Activity) study, one of seven ... of Health,s (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. ...
Cached Biology News:Biofuels production has unintended consequences on water quality and quantity in Mississippi 2Pitt researcher receives NIH funding for technology-enhanced weight-loss program 2Pitt researcher receives NIH funding for technology-enhanced weight-loss program 3
(Date:8/28/2014)... (PRWEB) August 28, 2014 Best Sanitizers, ... for the food processing industry, is asking industry professionals ... side comparison of the E2 soap they’re currently using ... Foam Soap . Hand hygiene is critical to ... food processing environment. Six key criteria are identified to ...
(Date:8/28/2014)... A new research platform uses a ... tiny structures undergoing stress and heating, an ... designs for microelectronics and batteries., This new ... about how heating and the surface stress ... Researchers have discussed the merits of surface-stress ...
(Date:8/28/2014)... The ability for organizations to attract ... allow individuals to perform at the highest of levels, ... looking to compete in this post–recession era. The ... as the sector increasingly focuses on the importance of ... have real results on the organization's development and the ...
(Date:8/28/2014)... 28, 2014 Sterlitech is proud to ... to its stable of products . These ... cut-offs and include membrane filters with surface charges. ... customer demand for our membrane process testing equipment, and ... flat sheet membranes,” explains Sterlitech President Mark Spatz. ...
Breaking Biology Technology:Best Sanitizers, Inc. Asks Food Industry Professionals: With Fall Harvest On the Way, Is Your E2 Hand Soap Up to the Task? 2New analytical technology reveals 'nanomechanical' surface traits 2New analytical technology reveals 'nanomechanical' surface traits 3Klein Hersh International Leads Philadelphia Area Life Science Industry in Company Culture 2Klein Hersh International Leads Philadelphia Area Life Science Industry in Company Culture 3Sterlitech Corporation Enhances Its Selection of Flat Sheet Membrane Filters 2
... Plexus Corp. (Nasdaq: PLXS ) announced today ... automated screening system for the pre-processing of human papillomavirus (HPV) ... to a current manual process, through sophisticated robotic motions. ... HPV; a virus that has an established link to cervical ...
... general health and self-care management by using simple tools ... May 28 Roche, the maker of ACCU-CHEK(R) blood ... availability of two new tools that can help patients ... impact on their blood glucose levels, giving them greater ...
... ISELIN, N.J., May 28 SyntheMed, Inc. (OTC ... the development and commercialization of anti-adhesion products, announced ... film for the reduction of adhesions following cardiac ... Goods Administration for use in all patients who ...
Cached Biology Technology:Plexus Awarded Development Contract With QIAGEN 2Plexus Awarded Development Contract With QIAGEN 3Plexus Awarded Development Contract With QIAGEN 4Roche Announces Back-to-Basics Approach to Diabetes Care - Simpler is Better 2Roche Announces Back-to-Basics Approach to Diabetes Care - Simpler is Better 3SyntheMed Receives Australian Regulatory Approval for REPEL-CV(R) 2
Goat polyclonal to PPP2R5D Immunogen: Peptide with sequence KRAEEFLTASQEAL, from C Terminus of the protein sequence according to NP_006236...
Mouse monoclonal [LH8] to Cytokeratin 5 + 14 ( Abpromise for all tested applications). entrezGeneID: 3852 SwissProtID: P02533...
Complement C1q subcomponent subunit C precursor. [Source:Uniprot/SWISSPROT;Acc:P02747] Antigen: Recombinant Protein Epitope Signature Tag (PrEST)....
Mouse monoclonal [CRC64] to Integrin alpha 2b + beta 3 ( Abpromise for all tested applications). Antigen: Human platelets Entrez Gene ID: 23295 Swiss Protein ID: P05106...
Biology Products: