This article talks about a new theory in linguistics and neuroscience. It hypothesizes that humans developed certain language skills from animals. Researchers from MIT and University of Tokyo believe human language is a combination of two communication forms: expression (from birds) and lexical (from bees or primates). It’s important to remember this is just a theory, but it is gaining support and one researcher says, “We see this over and over again in evolution. Old structures can change just a little bit, and acquire radically new functions.” The article goes into more detail about expression and lexical examples, as well as parallels found in birds and humans. There are “striking parallels between language acquisition in birds and humans [including] the phase of life when each is best at picking up languages, and the part of the brain used for language.”
I got the idea for today’s post from an Audubon article that I read. I can’t find an online link for it, but it talked about the similarities between bird songs and human speech. Researchers are hoping that future experiments and more detailed comparisons will help science learn how humans develop speech and could help people with speech disorders. Additionally, the Audubon article stated that birds can grow new neurons to replace ones that die out. It is believed humans might be able to regenerate neurons as well, but understanding the process fully would open new possibilities for sufferers of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.