Researchers identify language feature unique to human brain

Mar 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: A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Human races: biological reality or cultural delusion?

Aug 14, 2014

The issue of race has been in the news a lot lately with the canning of proposed amendments to Australia's Racial Discrimination Act, attempts by extremists to commit genocide on cultural minorities in Iraq and a new book by US autho ...

Recommended for you

Gamers helping in Ebola research

5 hours ago

Months before the recent Ebola outbreak erupted in Western Africa, killing more than a thousand people, scientists at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design were looking for a way to stop the deadly virus.

Carcinogenic role of a protein in liver decoded

7 hours ago

The human protein EGFR controls cell growth. It has mutated in case of many cancer cells or exists in excessive numbers. For this reason it serves as a point of attack for target-oriented therapies. A study ...

A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

Aug 31, 2014

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and ...

User comments : 1

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