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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Genes and vocal learning.

  • Author(s): White, Stephanie A
  • et al.

Could a mutation in a single gene be the evolutionary lynchpin supporting the development of human language? A rare mutation in the molecule known as FOXP2 discovered in a human family seemed to suggest so, and its sequence phylogeny reinforced a Chomskian view that language emerged wholesale in humans. Spurred by this discovery, research in primates, rodents and birds suggests that FoxP2 and other language-related genes are interactors in the neuromolecular networks that underlie subsystems of language, such symbolic understanding, vocal learning and theory of mind. The whole picture will only come together through comparative and integrative study into how the human language singularity evolved.

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