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Genetics/Language article in TechReview

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  • atman@vedavid.org
    Hey Steve, Michael, all - Maybe this was posted and I missed it due to travel. But it s interesting that MIT s Technology Review (a favorite of mine for the
    Message 1 of 19 , Jan 1, 2008
      Hey Steve, Michael, all -

      Maybe this was posted and I missed it due to travel. But it's interesting
      that MIT's Technology Review (a favorite of mine for the last nearly 10
      years ...) is going into FOXP2 and such. Likely high-level and redundant
      to the detail with which it's discussed here ... but an interesting
      perspective (I hope).

      I was not needing a password for it, but can send PDF if needed:

      http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19843/page1/

      Best of the season and year to all,

      JR

      John Robert Gardner, NR-EMT
      Vice-President/Director
      Content Management Services
      Prodigious
    • Steve Farmer
      Here s a link to the one-paqe printable version of the article, John Robert: http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=19843 I haven t
      Message 2 of 19 , Jan 1, 2008
        Here's a link to the one-paqe printable version of the article,
        John Robert:

        http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=19843

        I haven't read it yet: I look forward to doing so later today.

        Best,
        Steve


        On Jan 1, 2008, at 1:53 PM, atman@... wrote:

        >
        > Hey Steve, Michael, all -
        >
        > Maybe this was posted and I missed it due to travel. But it's
        > interesting that MIT's Technology Review (a favorite of mine for the last
        > nearly 10 years ...) is going into FOXP2 and such. Likely high-level and
        > redundant to the detail with which it's discussed here ... but an interesting
        > perspective (I hope).
        >
        > I was not needing a password for it, but can send PDF if needed:
        >
        > http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19843/page1/
        >
        > Best of the season and year to all,
        >
        > JR
        >
        > John Robert Gardner, NR-EMT
        > Vice-President/Director
        > Content Management Services
        > Prodigious
        >
        >
        >
      • Steve Farmer
        Dear John Robert, I read the Genetics of Language article, at: http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19843/page1/ I already get MIT Technology Review, but
        Message 3 of 19 , Jan 2, 2008
          Dear John Robert,

          I read the "Genetics of Language" article, at:

          http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19843/page1/

          I already get MIT Technology Review, but didn't see this one. It's
          much better on FOXP2 than most popular science articles, but it still
          makes too much of the gene as a supposed critical link in the
          evolution of language. Hence it mentions quickly but doesn't make
          much of the fact that a new study (on which Geschwind is a co-author)
          identifies at least 285(!) "downstream" targets of this transcription
          factor in human fetal tissue. The gene is expressed not only in many
          different brain regions, including those that have nothing to do with
          language, but in many other parts of the body as well:

          http://tinyurl.com/22y8lr

          Also, while the article mentions the new work that found the "human
          allele" of FOXP2 in Neanderthals, which sounds especially exciting if
          you want to tie the gene just to language:

          http://tinyurl.com/2bcu42

          It doesn't mention that exactly the same "human allele" of FOXP2
          has also recently been found in some (not all) echolocating bats and
          that other mammals (including carnivores) have at least one of the same
          mutations in the "human form" that distinguishes that form from (say)
          the form in mice:

          http://tinyurl.com/34v5jv (full text)

          The fact is that the FOXP2 transcription factor has been shown to have
          many functions both during fetal development (it is involved in
          organogenesis and cell differentiation in many parts of the brain, in
          the lungs, heart, and other body parts) and also has something to do
          with neural plasticity during learning, as illustrated in recent
          studies of FOXP2 expression in birds during periods in which they are
          learning to sing. Zap the gene (in humans or birds) and among other
          things you'll get problems in language or bird song, as illustrated in
          this new paper on bird song:

          http://tinyurl.com/2hrwpm

          but that doesn't mean that the evolution of the human/Neanderthal/bat
          form of the gene (which isn't much different from the mouse or
          carnivore form) was itself critical to the evolution of language.

          As a high-energy physicist friend puts it, speaking of what we learn
          by zapping atomic nuclei with subatomic particles: You can get a dog
          to bark by kicking it, but dogs aren't made out of barks. Similarly, you
          can disrupt language or birdsong by disrupting a FOXP2 gene, but that
          doesn't mean that the evolution of language or birdsong depended
          specifically on the development of this one gene. It has been estimated
          that as many as 20,000 genes are involved in the brain. To point to
          one of these as critical to something as widely distributed in the brain
          as language is pop science at its worst.

          Cheers,
          Steve

          On Jan 1, 2008, at 1:53 PM, atman@... wrote:

          >
          > Hey Steve, Michael, all -
          >
          > Maybe this was posted and I missed it due to travel. But it's
          > interesting that MIT's Technology Review (a favorite of mine for the last
          > nearly 10 years ...) is going into FOXP2 and such. Likely high-level and
          > redundant to the detail with which it's discussed here ... but an interesting
          > perspective (I hope).
          >
          > I was not needing a password for it, but can send PDF if needed:
          >
          > http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/19843/page1/
          >
          > Best of the season and year to all,
          >
          > JR
          >
          > John Robert Gardner, NR-EMT
          > Vice-President/Director
          > Content Management Services
          > Prodigious
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
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