Chapter 13 The Evolution of Language and the Brain

Chapter 13 The Evolution of Language and the Brain -...

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Chapter 13 – The Evolution of Language and the Brain Ways of Communicating Theories on the Origins of Speech - Grafton Elliot Smith (1927) linked the origin of speech to increased muscular control in a way that anticipated certain modern theories, and further theorized that in addition to imitating sounds that they heard, our ancestors began to name objects and events and to use imperative verbs - Philip Lieberman (2002) believes that there was a connection between the evolution of hominin bipedalism and speech and language (increased motor control needed for upright standing and walking would have been a preadaptation for language development) Communication among Animals - Communications get more complex as the social organizations of animals do - Nonhuman primates seem to rely heavily on combinations of gestures, facial expressions, and postures as well as scents and sounds - However, nonhuman primates in the wild are limited in the ways they can refer to specific things in their environemtn and cannot communicate thought through the complex phonetic codes called words that are used by humans Limbic and Nonlimbic Communication - Signals that express inner emotional and physiological states are managed by a group of structures in the brain known as the limbic system (signals come from below the level of conscious awareness) - In contrast to these signals, some gestures appear to communicate conscious will or intent (these are probably generated primarily by higher – cortical – centers of the brain, whose control functions have been superimposed over autonomous limbic control) - Nonverbal communication is still an essential component in modern human relationships Nature of Language - The number of meanings that can be assigned to a spoken language is infinite - Language gives people the capacity to share their thoughts - Language provided humans the ability to acquire and pass on from one generation to the next the network of learned rather than inherited behavior patterns and other knowledge that allowed them to alter their environment and adapt to new ones Ability to Speak Talking Apes? - With training by humans, apes are able to construct simple sentences, and are able to lie, abuse their trainers, and invent new expressions - Apes have the capacity for symbol comprehension and use, but their best efforts still do not exceed those of a two to three year old human child - A quantitative, rather than a qualitative, gap in communication capacities separates humans from their ape relations
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The Pharynx - The human larynx , with its vocal cords, is farther down the throat than the ape larynx, and the part above the larynx, the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ANTH 145 taught by Professor Gatewood during the Fall '07 term at Lehigh University .

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Chapter 13 The Evolution of Language and the Brain -...

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