Reaction Paper: Evolution of Language

Pages: 2 (662 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Communication - Language  ·  Buy This Paper

Evolution of Language

Mirror Neurons: A Reaction to the Tower of Babel: The Evolution of Language

Ramachandran's implicit theory for the evolution of language revolves around the presence of mirror neurons, which were discovered in the frontal lobes of monkeys in the latter half of the 20th century by Giacomo Rizzolatti. Certain characteristics of these neurons, which have been confirmed to exist within humans as well, help to elucidate a number of questions about the development of language in humans that have plagued psychological, evolutionary, and linguistic theorists since the time of Charles Darwin, and help to disprove Noam Chomsky's view that language is a barrier to the theory of evolution since it stems from an alleged "language organ" in humans, and not in primates. Mirror neurons provide a scientific basis for the function of mimicry which is an innate element of the propagation of language, which Ramachandran posits as a likely explanation for its evolution.

The neurologist's viewpoint borrows heavily from Darwin, who popularized the notion that voice modulation, which eventually led to language, initially began as a way to project emotional and musical sounds as part of a primitive courtship ritual. The mirror neuron point-of-view bolsters this theorem by applying Rizzolatti's finding that certain cells fire in monkeys when they are performing an action or observing another perform that same action. According to Ramachandran, these mirror neurons may have propagate the development of language in humans (which possess a more sophisticated set of vocal paraphernalia and a correspondingly advanced language area in the brain than primates) by allowing people to mimic the physical motions and sounds of others until words, sentences, and the complexities of language itself was existent.

In order to confirm the presence of mirror neurons in humans, Ramachandran performed two separate studies which provided the basis for his explanation of language's development. The first came from a series of observations of patients afflicted with anosognosia, a syndrome in which patients deny facts that are known to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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