Event Abstract

Is FoxP2 a candidate for 'deep homology'?

  • 1 Freie Universitaet Berlin, Department of Animal Behavior, Germany

Spoken language and birdsong share a number of striking parallels. I will summarize the biologically tractable cognitive abilities necessary for spoken language and for birdsong and argue that the similarities are not limited to sensorimotor processes – but may extend to the conceptual and computational systems. I will review evidence for the relevance of the FoxP2 gene and its associated molecular network for language and its role in the acquisition and production of birdsong. Many questions regarding the similarities between spoken language and birdsong remain unanswered, but increasing evidence suggests that human and non-human communication systems may rely on conserved molecular toolkits that act as genetic modules. These may specify the neural circuits subserving these particular behaviors, and organize their function. Elucidating these genetic modules in different animal models promises insights into the evolution of language and other complex traits.

Keywords: avian, bird, KE family, Language, song, Speech, Spine, Zebra finch

Conference: Tenth International Congress of Neuroethology, College Park. Maryland USA, United States, 5 Aug - 10 Aug, 2012.

Presentation Type: Plenary Address (including special lectures) (Note, these individuals have already been invited)

Topic: Genes and Behavior

Citation: Scharff C (2012). Is FoxP2 a candidate for 'deep homology'?. Conference Abstract: Tenth International Congress of Neuroethology. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnbeh.2012.27.00053

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Received: 02 May 2012; Published Online: 07 Jul 2012.

* Correspondence: Prof. Constance Scharff, Freie Universitaet Berlin, Department of Animal Behavior, Berlin, 14195, Germany, scharff@zedat.fu-berlin.de