Evolution, brain, and the nature of language

Robert C. Berwick, Angela D. Friederici, Noam Chomsky, Johan J. Bolhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

235 Scopus citations

Abstract

Language serves as a cornerstone for human cognition, yet much about its evolution remains puzzling. Recent research on this question parallels Darwin's attempt to explain both the unity of all species and their diversity. What has emerged from this research is that the unified nature of human language arises from a shared, species-specific computational ability. This ability has identifiable correlates in the brain and has remained fixed since the origin of language approximately 100 thousand years ago. Although songbirds share with humans a vocal imitation learning ability, with a similar underlying neural organization, language is uniquely human.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89
Number of pages1
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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