Researchers identify language feature unique to human brain

March 23, 2008

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have identified a language feature unique to the human brain that is shedding light on how human language evolved. The study marks the first use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a non-invasive imaging technique, to compare human brain structures to those of chimpanzees, our closest living relative. The study will be published in the online version of Nature Neuroscience.

To explore the evolution of human language, Yerkes researcher James Rilling, PhD, and his colleagues studied the arcuate fasciculus, a pathway that connects brain regions known to be involved in human language, such as Broca's area in the frontal lobe and Wernicke's area in the temporal lobe. Using DTI, researchers compared the size and trajectory of the arcuate fasciculus in humans, rhesus macaques and chimpanzees.

According to Rilling, "The human arcuate fasiculus differed from that of the rhesus macaques and chimpanzees in having a much larger and more widespread projection to areas in the middle temporal lobe, outside of the classical Wernicke's area. We know from previous functional imaging studies that the middle temporal lobe is involved with analyzing the meanings of words. In humans, it seems the brain not only evolved larger language regions but also a network of fibers to connect those regions, which supports humans' superior language capabilities."

"This is a landmark," said Yerkes researcher Todd Preuss, PhD, one of the study's coauthors. "Until DTI was developed, scientists lacked non-invasive methods to study brain connectivity directly. We couldn't study the connections of the human brain, nor determine how humans resemble or differ from other animals. DTI now makes it possible to understand how evolution changed the wiring of the human brain to enable us to think, act and speak like humans."

ource: Emory University

Explore further: Four-fifths of a banana is better than half

Related Stories

Grammar: Eventually the brain opts for the easy route

August 13, 2015

Languages are constantly evolving—and grammar is no exception. The way in which the brain processes language triggers adjustments. If the brain has to exert itself too much to cope with difficult case constructions, it ...

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Musio: Your AI friend in back-and-forth exchange

June 2, 2015

Many people have hardly reached saturation point in being drawn to videos of cute robots that avoid the uncanny-valley risk of looking uncomfortably human; instead they cross the lines between cute animal pets and cartoonish ...

The emerging science of human screams

July 16, 2015

Our noisy world is no match for a screaming infant. An airplane could be flying by as a house party rages on downstairs while a literal cat fight takes place outside, and still a wailing baby will win your attention. One ...

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HenisDov
not rated yet Mar 25, 2008
http://www.physfo...ic=14988&st=180&#entry326033

Science Must Refresh Concept Of Evolution

A. Unique Human Brain Language Feature Sheds Light On Human Language Evolution

http://www.physor...956.html

"DTI now makes it possible to understand how evolution changed the wiring of the human brain to enable us to think, act and speak like humans."


B. Come On, Science Technicians, Rethink, Refresh Concepts!

It is NOT that the Uniquely Human Brain Wiring ENABLED US to think, act and speak like humans.

It is that our innitiation and application of thinking and speaking lead to the expansion and modification, by our genome, of the uniquely human brain wiring, that enabled further development of these survival capabilities!

This difference in comprehension is not a minor difference. It is a major prime difference in the conception and understanding of what evolution is and how we fit in it!


Dov Henis

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.