Human brain isn’t so special, neurobiologist says

Mark Changizi says there’s no “special sauce” in the human brain. Instead, he argues that our way of thinking is just the brain’s ability to recognize and mimic visual and sound patterns found in nature.

Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist and director of Human Cognition at 2ai Labs, spoke about his research during Duke’s first neurohumanities research group seminar on Sept. 20. The group is co-organized by the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.

During his talk, Changizi explored with the audience of both scientists and artists his investigations between shapes and sounds, nature and the fundamental elements of speech, music and writing.

He said that our brains didn’t evolve to have language and music instincts. Instead, language and music shaped themselves to be tailored to our brains. Because our brains were cut for nature, language and music mimicked it to transform ape to man.*

Read the rest here. Some of his claims seem a bit of a stretch, but I can't say with any authority.

Tags: books, brains, language, mind, music, neurscience, science, speech, writing

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Replies to This Discussion

I always liked the idea I saw put forward years ago, wherein our prehuman ancestors sang nonlinguistically, like birds do, which is how we developed the physical adaptations for producing speech as our songs became more and more complex, before we invented speech. This hypothesis was in response to some studies that suggested that our speech centers are repurposed portions of our visual cortex. I am not sure ho you would go about testing something like that, but it is an elegant explanation.

Hmmm, that's a possibility, I suppose. However, I don't think that speech centers are anywhere near the visual areas, which is in the occipital lobe at the back of your brain. I'm not sure I've ever heard of any other parts of the brain being associated with vision, even in prehuman ancestors. I do know that the two areas associated with grammar and vocabulary are Wernicke's area and Broca's area, but these are on the sides of your brain in the parietal lobe.


However, I suspect that like a lot of voluntary functions, speech is controlled in the brain by a many different parts working together in unison. Certainly Wernicke's and Broca's must be working together to construct sentences.


Please forgive if my neuroanatomy is not perfect. I'm working from memory.


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