January 12, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

Humans' Groovy Language Brain

More features are discovered that set humans apart from apes.

Groovy brain:  An asymmetric groove in the brain is completely absent in other primates, including chimpanzees, New Scientist says.  Clare Wilson writes, “The groove’s function is unknown, but its location suggests it played a role in the evolution of our communication abilities.”  She also notes that the human brain is about three times larger than a chimpanzee brain.  A French researcher commented, “We think that [this asymmetry] is related to either speech or social cognition, which are both abilities for which humans outperform other primates.”

Invariance solved by baby:  The “invariance problem” in human speech involves our ability to recognize dramatically different syllables that start with the same consonant, such as bo, ba, and be, as similar.  A Harvard study reported by Medical Xpress found that infants as young as 6 months can solve the invariance problem.  Specially designed tests showed that they were not surprised at the different syllables like they were when hearing unfamiliar ones.  This suggests that infants recognize how sounds are made, not just what they represent.

Amazing FactsBrain update:  Your brain has a method for keeping memories up to date.  According to Medical Xpress, new information replaces old or inaccurate information by a pruning process.  Without this, our minds would be cluttered by noisy, false data that would confuse us.  “An experiment conducted by researchers from Princeton University and the University of Texas-Austin shows that the human brain uses memories to make predictions about what it expects to find in familiar contexts,” the article says. “When those subconscious predictions are shown to be wrong, the related memories are weakened and are more likely to be forgotten.” The bigger the error, the more it is likely to be pruned, the article says.

Babies are born into this world ready with the right equipment to speak within the first year of growth.  How many lucky mutations did it take to make these changes?  How many more for the brain to use true hierarchical symbolic language, and attach meaning to complex sounds?  Where did the ability to think in abstract concepts, do math in the head, and sing complex songs with counterpoint and harmony come from?  The marks of human exceptionalism are evident throughout the human body.  These are marks of creation, not evolution.

 

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