Study: Grammar ability hardwired in humans

February 7, 2006

University of Rochester scientists studying why characteristics of grammar are found in all languages say the use of grammar is hardwired in our brains.

The study examined deaf individuals who were isolated from conventional sign, spoken and written language their entire lives, and yet still developed a unique form of gesture communication.

"Our findings suggest that certain fundamental characteristics of human language systems appear in gestural communication, even when the user has never been exposed to linguistic input and has not descended from previous generations of skilled communicative partners," said Elissa Newport, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences and linguistics

"We examined a particular hallmark of known grammatical systems and found these signers also used this same hallmark in their gestured sentences," said said. "They designed their own language and wound up with some of the same rules of grammar every other language uses."

The research was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Language skills in your twenties may predict risk of dementia decades later

Related Stories

Sea anemone is genetically half animal, half plant

March 18, 2014

The team led by evolutionary and developmental biologist Ulrich Technau at the University of Vienna discovered that sea anemones display a genomic landscape with a complexity of regulatory elements similar to that of fruit ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

New 'self-healing' gel makes electronics more flexible

November 25, 2015

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a first-of-its-kind self-healing gel that repairs and connects electronic circuits, creating opportunities to advance the ...

Aging star's weight loss secret revealed

November 25, 2015

A team of astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope has captured the most detailed images ever of the hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris. These observations show how the unexpectedly large size of the particles of dust surrounding ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.