Sci­en­tists de­code pos­si­ble ori­gin of hu­man speech

The Day After - - COFFEEHOUSE -

Re­searchers have dis­cov­ered neu­ral cir­cuits in the brains of rh­e­sus macaque mon­keys that could rep­re­sent a com­mon ori­gin for so­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion, in­clud­ing hu­man speech. The find­ings showed that these cir­cuits are in­volved in face recog­ni­tion, fa­cial ex­pres­sion and emo­tion and they may very well have given rise to our sin­gu­lar ca­pac­ity for speech.

The team, from the Rock­e­feller Univer­sity in New York City, used a novel ex­per­i­men­tal setup to take MRI scans of the brains of mon­keys as they watched video clips of other mon­keys mak­ing com­mu­nica­tive fa­cial ex­pres­sions. When the mon­keys in the clips made a friendly lip-smack­ing ges­ture, the sub­ject mon­keys re­sponded in kind — but only when their pre-recorded peers ap­peared to be mak­ing di­rect eye con­tact with them.

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