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The Organic Infinite Positive Feedback Circuit Loop, Version 98

Origins of Language in Brain Circuit

Language is learned in brain circuits that predate humans

The origins of language discovered in music, mime and mimicry

For a start, other great apes have large air sacs in the throat. These help them make booming calls to scare off rivals, but inhibit the production of the distinct vowel sounds crucial to human speech, according to acoustic simulations by Bart de Boer at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium. Our earliest ancestors had such sacs, but they aren’t found in Homo heidelbergensis – the common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans – which evolved 700,000 years ago.

Then there is the FOXP2 gene, which influences the brain’s wiring and plasticity in areas controlling speech. It is widespread in mammals, but we carry a version that enables us to make the finely controlled movements of our face and mouth required for coherent speech. Neanderthals share a very similar version of the gene, which suggests they, too, were capable of complex articulation.

Evolution + Anthropology


Addendum Regeneration + Neuroplasticity + Growing New Neurons as Adults in the Brain


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