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From imitation to meaning: circuit plasticity and the acquisition of a conventionalized semantics.

García RR, Zamorano F, Aboitiz F - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Bottom Line: Vocalizations also served to generate joint attention among conversants, especially when combined with gaze direction.Another contributing element was the development of pantomimic actions resembling events or animals.Thus, vocal imitations of sounds, as in onomatopoeias (words whose sound resembles their meaning), are possibly supported by mirror system circuits, and may have been relevant in the acquisition of early meanings.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centro de Estudios Cognitivos, Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Universidad de Chile Santiago, Chile.

ABSTRACT
The capacity for language is arguably the most remarkable innovation of the human brain. A relatively recent interpretation prescribes that part of the language-related circuits were co-opted from circuitry involved in hand control-the mirror neuron system (MNS), involved both in the perception and in the execution of voluntary grasping actions. A less radical view is that in early humans, communication was opportunistic and multimodal, using signs, vocalizations or whatever means available to transmit social information. However, one point that is not yet clear under either perspective is how learned communication acquired a semantic property thereby allowing us to name objects and eventually describe our surrounding environment. Here we suggest a scenario involving both manual gestures and learned vocalizations that led to the development of a primitive form of conventionalized reference. This proposal is based on comparative evidence gathered from other species and on neurolinguistic evidence in humans, which points to a crucial role for vocal learning in the early development of language. Firstly, the capacity to direct the attention of others to a common object may have been crucial for developing a consensual referential system. Pointing, which is a ritualized grasping gesture, may have been crucial to this end. Vocalizations also served to generate joint attention among conversants, especially when combined with gaze direction. Another contributing element was the development of pantomimic actions resembling events or animals. In conjunction with this mimicry, the development of plastic neural circuits that support complex, learned vocalizations was probably a significant factor in the evolution of conventionalized semantics in our species. Thus, vocal imitations of sounds, as in onomatopoeias (words whose sound resembles their meaning), are possibly supported by mirror system circuits, and may have been relevant in the acquisition of early meanings.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Proposed schematic connectivity of the language-related regions in the human brain, based on Kelly et al. (2010). The superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) connects inferior parietal area PF (anterior supramarginal gyrus, aSMG) with premotor area 6v (green arrows), area PFG (posterior supramarginal gyrus) with area 44 and area PG (angular gyrus) with areas 45B and 45A (dark blue arrows). The arcuate fasciculus (AF; red arrows) connects the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) and gyrus (STG) with areas 44 and 45B. The middle longitudinal fasciculus connects STS and STG with PFG and PG (light blue arrows). Finally, there is a ventral projection via the extreme capsule (yellow arrows), connecting more anterior aspects of the STG, STS and middle temporal gyrus (MTG) with Broca’s region (areas 44 and 45). In summary, connecting the anterior and posterior language areas, there is a dorsal pathway with (i) a direct component (AF, red arrow); (ii) an indirect component (middle longitudinal fasciculus and SLF, light blue and dark blue arrows); and (iii) a multimodal ventral pathway (yellow arrows). The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) is the area inside the broken lines, and includes areas 44, 45A and 45B, and area 47 (not colored). 6VR, area 6 ventral-rostral.
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Figure 1: Proposed schematic connectivity of the language-related regions in the human brain, based on Kelly et al. (2010). The superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) connects inferior parietal area PF (anterior supramarginal gyrus, aSMG) with premotor area 6v (green arrows), area PFG (posterior supramarginal gyrus) with area 44 and area PG (angular gyrus) with areas 45B and 45A (dark blue arrows). The arcuate fasciculus (AF; red arrows) connects the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) and gyrus (STG) with areas 44 and 45B. The middle longitudinal fasciculus connects STS and STG with PFG and PG (light blue arrows). Finally, there is a ventral projection via the extreme capsule (yellow arrows), connecting more anterior aspects of the STG, STS and middle temporal gyrus (MTG) with Broca’s region (areas 44 and 45). In summary, connecting the anterior and posterior language areas, there is a dorsal pathway with (i) a direct component (AF, red arrow); (ii) an indirect component (middle longitudinal fasciculus and SLF, light blue and dark blue arrows); and (iii) a multimodal ventral pathway (yellow arrows). The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) is the area inside the broken lines, and includes areas 44, 45A and 45B, and area 47 (not colored). 6VR, area 6 ventral-rostral.

Mentions: Over the last few years, the use of MRI tractography has been fundamental in describing the structural connectivity of the language circuits in the human brain (Catani and ffytche, 2005; Parker et al., 2005; Friederici et al., 2006; Anwander et al., 2007; Frey et al., 2008; Glasser and Rilling, 2008; Friederici, 2009). Consistent with other studies, Frey et al. (2008) described an arcuate fasciculus (AF) that connects the posterior STG (Wernicke’s region) to area 44 (posterior Broca’s region; Figure 1). However, these authors have also emphasized a robust projection from the inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and anterior temporal lobe to the VLPFC: there is a large projection from area PFG (anterior area 39, posterior supramarginal gyrus) in the IPL, via the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) to area 44, and another from area PG (posterior area 39, anterior angular gyrus) to area 45 (this is subdivided into areas 45A and 45B; see Figure 1). Noteworthy to point out is that the IPL receives connections from temporal lobe auditory areas through the middle and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, thereby closing a circuit to area 44 (see Figure 1). These two projections, a direct one via the AF and an indirect one via the middle longitudinal fasciculus and the SLF to the VLPFC, make up the dorsal pathway for audition and language. In addition, there is a ventral pathway from anterior temporal areas that courses through the external capsule and ends in areas 47 and 45 (Figure 1). The dorsal auditory pathway has been considered a participant in phonological working memory, verbal articulatory processes and complex syntactic processing, while the ventral pathway is thought to be involved in speech recognition, verbal retrieval and simple grammatical processing (Buchsbaum et al., 2005a,b; Hickok and Poeppel, 2007; Saur et al., 2008).


From imitation to meaning: circuit plasticity and the acquisition of a conventionalized semantics.

García RR, Zamorano F, Aboitiz F - Front Hum Neurosci (2014)

Proposed schematic connectivity of the language-related regions in the human brain, based on Kelly et al. (2010). The superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) connects inferior parietal area PF (anterior supramarginal gyrus, aSMG) with premotor area 6v (green arrows), area PFG (posterior supramarginal gyrus) with area 44 and area PG (angular gyrus) with areas 45B and 45A (dark blue arrows). The arcuate fasciculus (AF; red arrows) connects the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) and gyrus (STG) with areas 44 and 45B. The middle longitudinal fasciculus connects STS and STG with PFG and PG (light blue arrows). Finally, there is a ventral projection via the extreme capsule (yellow arrows), connecting more anterior aspects of the STG, STS and middle temporal gyrus (MTG) with Broca’s region (areas 44 and 45). In summary, connecting the anterior and posterior language areas, there is a dorsal pathway with (i) a direct component (AF, red arrow); (ii) an indirect component (middle longitudinal fasciculus and SLF, light blue and dark blue arrows); and (iii) a multimodal ventral pathway (yellow arrows). The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) is the area inside the broken lines, and includes areas 44, 45A and 45B, and area 47 (not colored). 6VR, area 6 ventral-rostral.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Figure 1: Proposed schematic connectivity of the language-related regions in the human brain, based on Kelly et al. (2010). The superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) connects inferior parietal area PF (anterior supramarginal gyrus, aSMG) with premotor area 6v (green arrows), area PFG (posterior supramarginal gyrus) with area 44 and area PG (angular gyrus) with areas 45B and 45A (dark blue arrows). The arcuate fasciculus (AF; red arrows) connects the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) and gyrus (STG) with areas 44 and 45B. The middle longitudinal fasciculus connects STS and STG with PFG and PG (light blue arrows). Finally, there is a ventral projection via the extreme capsule (yellow arrows), connecting more anterior aspects of the STG, STS and middle temporal gyrus (MTG) with Broca’s region (areas 44 and 45). In summary, connecting the anterior and posterior language areas, there is a dorsal pathway with (i) a direct component (AF, red arrow); (ii) an indirect component (middle longitudinal fasciculus and SLF, light blue and dark blue arrows); and (iii) a multimodal ventral pathway (yellow arrows). The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) is the area inside the broken lines, and includes areas 44, 45A and 45B, and area 47 (not colored). 6VR, area 6 ventral-rostral.
Mentions: Over the last few years, the use of MRI tractography has been fundamental in describing the structural connectivity of the language circuits in the human brain (Catani and ffytche, 2005; Parker et al., 2005; Friederici et al., 2006; Anwander et al., 2007; Frey et al., 2008; Glasser and Rilling, 2008; Friederici, 2009). Consistent with other studies, Frey et al. (2008) described an arcuate fasciculus (AF) that connects the posterior STG (Wernicke’s region) to area 44 (posterior Broca’s region; Figure 1). However, these authors have also emphasized a robust projection from the inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and anterior temporal lobe to the VLPFC: there is a large projection from area PFG (anterior area 39, posterior supramarginal gyrus) in the IPL, via the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) to area 44, and another from area PG (posterior area 39, anterior angular gyrus) to area 45 (this is subdivided into areas 45A and 45B; see Figure 1). Noteworthy to point out is that the IPL receives connections from temporal lobe auditory areas through the middle and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, thereby closing a circuit to area 44 (see Figure 1). These two projections, a direct one via the AF and an indirect one via the middle longitudinal fasciculus and the SLF to the VLPFC, make up the dorsal pathway for audition and language. In addition, there is a ventral pathway from anterior temporal areas that courses through the external capsule and ends in areas 47 and 45 (Figure 1). The dorsal auditory pathway has been considered a participant in phonological working memory, verbal articulatory processes and complex syntactic processing, while the ventral pathway is thought to be involved in speech recognition, verbal retrieval and simple grammatical processing (Buchsbaum et al., 2005a,b; Hickok and Poeppel, 2007; Saur et al., 2008).

Bottom Line: Vocalizations also served to generate joint attention among conversants, especially when combined with gaze direction.Another contributing element was the development of pantomimic actions resembling events or animals.Thus, vocal imitations of sounds, as in onomatopoeias (words whose sound resembles their meaning), are possibly supported by mirror system circuits, and may have been relevant in the acquisition of early meanings.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Centro de Estudios Cognitivos, Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Universidad de Chile Santiago, Chile.

ABSTRACT
The capacity for language is arguably the most remarkable innovation of the human brain. A relatively recent interpretation prescribes that part of the language-related circuits were co-opted from circuitry involved in hand control-the mirror neuron system (MNS), involved both in the perception and in the execution of voluntary grasping actions. A less radical view is that in early humans, communication was opportunistic and multimodal, using signs, vocalizations or whatever means available to transmit social information. However, one point that is not yet clear under either perspective is how learned communication acquired a semantic property thereby allowing us to name objects and eventually describe our surrounding environment. Here we suggest a scenario involving both manual gestures and learned vocalizations that led to the development of a primitive form of conventionalized reference. This proposal is based on comparative evidence gathered from other species and on neurolinguistic evidence in humans, which points to a crucial role for vocal learning in the early development of language. Firstly, the capacity to direct the attention of others to a common object may have been crucial for developing a consensual referential system. Pointing, which is a ritualized grasping gesture, may have been crucial to this end. Vocalizations also served to generate joint attention among conversants, especially when combined with gaze direction. Another contributing element was the development of pantomimic actions resembling events or animals. In conjunction with this mimicry, the development of plastic neural circuits that support complex, learned vocalizations was probably a significant factor in the evolution of conventionalized semantics in our species. Thus, vocal imitations of sounds, as in onomatopoeias (words whose sound resembles their meaning), are possibly supported by mirror system circuits, and may have been relevant in the acquisition of early meanings.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus