Syal proofs - Developmental Science (2010), pp 114 DOI:

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
PAPER Thinking outside the cortex: social motivation in the evolution and development of language Supriya Syal and Barbara L. Finlay Department of Psychology, Cornell University, USA Abstract Alteration of the organization of social and motivational neuroanatomical circuitry must have been an essential step in the evolution of human language. Development of vocal communication across species, particularly birdsong, and new research on the neural organization and evolution of social and motivational circuitry, together suggest that human language is the result of an obligatory link of a powerful cortico-striatal learning system, and subcortical socio-motivational circuitry. Introduction The essential modification in human evolution enabling language has been addressed for decades. In adults, language is demonstrably dependent on the cortex, so the essential evolutionary modification for language has reasonably been sought in the quality or quantity of cortical computations found there. The crystallized product of a lifelong learning process may not be the best source of insight, however, about what initial alterations permitted it. Language plasticity after early damage raises the most perplexing questions about what in the cortex allows language. The right half of the cortex may be removed, or the left half, and language still develops. The frontal cortex may be removed or severely reduced. Uncomfortably for capacity arguments, total cortical volume may be reduced wholesale by prenatal genetic accident, such as Down s syndrome, or by postnatal accident, and yet language will often survive (Bates, Reilly, Wulfeck, Dronkers, Opie, Fenson, Kiz, Jeffries, Miller & Herbst, 2001; Bates, 2004). An individual may be deaf, blind, or blind and deaf together, and with dedicated tutelage will still learn language with what remains. What conceivable sensory specialization or cortical alteration could survive these assaults? We will remain agnostic on the cognitive and cortical architecture of language. Instead, we will highlight the changes in human sociality and its motivational corre- lates, and explore motivation s mechanistic links to language. Of course, unique aspects of human social structure have already been explored widely and at multiple levels. A general coupling between growth of the neocortex and increasing social complexity in primates has been observed (Dunbar & Schultz, 2007). Demon- strations of how human cultures have solved the problem of stabilization of non-kin altruism, that is, how to sta- bilize social structures and eliminate cheating such that the manifest benefits of extended altruism to social groups can be had, have exploded in number (Wilson, Gorman, 2008; Bowles, 2006; Richerson & Boyd, 2005; 1 ; Pagel, 2009). In development, human children, contrasted with young chimpanzees, attend to social cues, share infor- mation, join games and generally cooperate, serving a
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 16

Syal proofs - Developmental Science (2010), pp 114 DOI:

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online