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Modeling Coevolution between Language and Memory Capacity during Language Origin.

Gong T, Shuai L - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Apart from empirical studies of memory effects on language acquisition and use, there lack sufficient evolutionary explorations on whether a high level of memory capacity is prerequisite for language and whether language origin could influence memory capacity.Simulations showed that: along with the origin of a communal language, an initially-low memory capacity for acquired linguistic knowledge was boosted; and such coherent increase in linguistic understandability and memory capacities reflected a language-memory coevolution; and such coevolution stopped till memory capacities became sufficient for language communications.This work elaborated the biology-culture parallelism of language evolution, demonstrated the driving force of culturally-constituted factors for natural selection of individual cognitive abilities, and suggested that the degree difference in language-related cognitive abilities between humans and nonhuman animals could result from a coevolution with language.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Memory is essential to many cognitive tasks including language. Apart from empirical studies of memory effects on language acquisition and use, there lack sufficient evolutionary explorations on whether a high level of memory capacity is prerequisite for language and whether language origin could influence memory capacity. In line with evolutionary theories that natural selection refined language-related cognitive abilities, we advocated a coevolution scenario between language and memory capacity, which incorporated the genetic transmission of individual memory capacity, cultural transmission of idiolects, and natural and cultural selections on individual reproduction and language teaching. To illustrate the coevolution dynamics, we adopted a multi-agent computational model simulating the emergence of lexical items and simple syntax through iterated communications. Simulations showed that: along with the origin of a communal language, an initially-low memory capacity for acquired linguistic knowledge was boosted; and such coherent increase in linguistic understandability and memory capacities reflected a language-memory coevolution; and such coevolution stopped till memory capacities became sufficient for language communications. Statistical analyses revealed that the coevolution was realized mainly by natural selection based on individual communicative success in cultural transmissions. This work elaborated the biology-culture parallelism of language evolution, demonstrated the driving force of culturally-constituted factors for natural selection of individual cognitive abilities, and suggested that the degree difference in language-related cognitive abilities between humans and nonhuman animals could result from a coevolution with language.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Mean UR and LTM capacity throughout 5000 generations in the sets with natural selection (a) and without (b).Initial LTM capacity is 20.
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pone.0142281.g007: Mean UR and LTM capacity throughout 5000 generations in the sets with natural selection (a) and without (b).Initial LTM capacity is 20.

Mentions: What happens if the initial LTM capacity is further below the threshold? To answer this question, we conduct another set of simulations under an initial LTM capacity of 20, much lower than the threshold shown in Fig 4. To give agents enough time to develop their LTM capacities, we increase the number of generations to 5000. A similar coevolution manifests in these simulations (see Fig 7): with natural selection, an initially-low LTM capacity is gradually enhanced above the threshold and a communal language with high UR is efficiently triggered; without natural selection, however, both the mean UR and LTM capacity fluctuate around their initial values.


Modeling Coevolution between Language and Memory Capacity during Language Origin.

Gong T, Shuai L - PLoS ONE (2015)

Mean UR and LTM capacity throughout 5000 generations in the sets with natural selection (a) and without (b).Initial LTM capacity is 20.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4636343&req=5

pone.0142281.g007: Mean UR and LTM capacity throughout 5000 generations in the sets with natural selection (a) and without (b).Initial LTM capacity is 20.
Mentions: What happens if the initial LTM capacity is further below the threshold? To answer this question, we conduct another set of simulations under an initial LTM capacity of 20, much lower than the threshold shown in Fig 4. To give agents enough time to develop their LTM capacities, we increase the number of generations to 5000. A similar coevolution manifests in these simulations (see Fig 7): with natural selection, an initially-low LTM capacity is gradually enhanced above the threshold and a communal language with high UR is efficiently triggered; without natural selection, however, both the mean UR and LTM capacity fluctuate around their initial values.

Bottom Line: Apart from empirical studies of memory effects on language acquisition and use, there lack sufficient evolutionary explorations on whether a high level of memory capacity is prerequisite for language and whether language origin could influence memory capacity.Simulations showed that: along with the origin of a communal language, an initially-low memory capacity for acquired linguistic knowledge was boosted; and such coherent increase in linguistic understandability and memory capacities reflected a language-memory coevolution; and such coevolution stopped till memory capacities became sufficient for language communications.This work elaborated the biology-culture parallelism of language evolution, demonstrated the driving force of culturally-constituted factors for natural selection of individual cognitive abilities, and suggested that the degree difference in language-related cognitive abilities between humans and nonhuman animals could result from a coevolution with language.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Memory is essential to many cognitive tasks including language. Apart from empirical studies of memory effects on language acquisition and use, there lack sufficient evolutionary explorations on whether a high level of memory capacity is prerequisite for language and whether language origin could influence memory capacity. In line with evolutionary theories that natural selection refined language-related cognitive abilities, we advocated a coevolution scenario between language and memory capacity, which incorporated the genetic transmission of individual memory capacity, cultural transmission of idiolects, and natural and cultural selections on individual reproduction and language teaching. To illustrate the coevolution dynamics, we adopted a multi-agent computational model simulating the emergence of lexical items and simple syntax through iterated communications. Simulations showed that: along with the origin of a communal language, an initially-low memory capacity for acquired linguistic knowledge was boosted; and such coherent increase in linguistic understandability and memory capacities reflected a language-memory coevolution; and such coevolution stopped till memory capacities became sufficient for language communications. Statistical analyses revealed that the coevolution was realized mainly by natural selection based on individual communicative success in cultural transmissions. This work elaborated the biology-culture parallelism of language evolution, demonstrated the driving force of culturally-constituted factors for natural selection of individual cognitive abilities, and suggested that the degree difference in language-related cognitive abilities between humans and nonhuman animals could result from a coevolution with language.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus