Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Pool knowledge to find the origins of language (Nature Neuroscience)

Linguists are calling for an online public database, similar to the human genome project, that would allow researchers to collaboratively share different studies of language impairment.

...The biological basis of how people speak, listen and comprehend - and how all of this mental equipment evolved - is largely mysterious. With many psychological abilities, researchers can study animals to gain insights, but this is not possible with language as no animal communication systems are anywhere near as complex as ours.

"In short, we know it's unique to humans and it evolved quickly," says Marcus. We developed the skill after we split from our last common ancestor - shared with chimpanzees - seven million years ago. Nevertheless, he says, language probably evolved as recently as the last few hundred thousand years.

This New Scientist news release is continued at "Pool knowledge to find the origins of language". [Psychology, Evolution]

Based on the journal Nature Neuroscience paper "What developmental disorders can tell us about the nature and origins of language" (Abstract)

At the time of writing Full Text is also available (via the Abstract link) but Nature seem to have a habit of changing open access items to subsciption-only - email if you have any problems.

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