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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Displacement and Evolution: A Neurocognitive and Comparative Perspective


By re-evaluating Crow (2000)’s claim that “Schizophrenia [is] the price that Homo sapiens pays for language”, we suggest that displacement, the ability to refer to things and situations outside from here and now, partly realized through syntactic operation, could be related to the symptoms of schizophrenia. Mainly supported by episodic memory, displacement has been found in nonhuman animals, but more limited than that in humans. As a conserved subcortical region, the hippocampus plays a key role in episodic memory across species. Evidence in humans suggests that the parietal lobe and basal ganglia are also involved in episodic Memory. We propose that what makes human displacement more developed could rely on the better coordination between the hippocampus and the parietal lobe and basal ganglia. Given that all these areas taking part in language processing, displacement could have served as an interface between episodic memory and language.

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