Deacon featured on PLoS Neuroanthropology

Neuroanthropology has moved to PLoS Neuroanthropology.

Our recent feature was Terrence Deacon’s article on the evolution of language in PNAS (May, 2010). You may like to read our in-depth post. Here’s a teaser:

Deacon (2010) puts forward an argument that language was not exclusively the product of the interorganismic processes of natural and sexual selection. Interorganismic processes include differential reproduction, divergence, drift, recombination and environment-correlated preservation (niche complementation). Deacon hypothesises that language evolved from the space for innovation afforded by the relaxation of selective pressures and the recruitment of intraorganismic evolution-like processes. Intraorganismic processes include redundancy, degeneracy, epigenetic accommodation, and synergy-correlated preservation (redistribution and complexification).

To read our more in-depth summary visit PLoS Neuroanthropology. And you can also check below the fold for a video of Deacon lecturing, as well as links to other coverage of Deacon’s work.

The WebCast below is hosted by the Department of Language and Literacy Education and the Faculty of Education, at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, as part of the plenary session at the 37th International Systemic Functional Congress:

Irving K. Barber Learning Centre feature this lecture by Deacon here.

According to Deacon’s reasoning, neural circuitry and social transmission were involved in shaping vocalisation and communication through the gradual accretion of variants within continually expanding proximal zones of innovation. The employment of neural and social structures served to distribute function onto multiple structures and simultaneously opened the space for the exploration and development of language. In some ways, humans became a self-domesticated species with loosened survival demands and a susceptibility to social control and experiential modification. The evolution of language is a consequence of fewer constraints, functional redistribution and the long-term adaptation of an array of flexible developmental mechanisms at the neurological, behavioural and social level.

Deacon’s article is featured in our post on PLoS Neuroanthropology, as well as posts by James Winters, Ursula Goodenough, and Blair Bolles.

Deacon also features in Les Fondations Francaises de la neuroanthropologie, Colour, is it in the brain, and Complete this quote.

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Paul Mason

I am a biomedically trained social anthropologist interested in biological and cultural diversity.

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