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Intersubjectivity evolved to fit the brain, but grammar co-evolved with the brain

  • Patricia M. Greenfield (a1) and Kristen Gillespie-Lynch (a2)

Abstract

We propose that some aspects of language – notably intersubjectivity – evolved to fit the brain, whereas other aspects – notably grammar – co-evolved with the brain. Cladistic analysis indicates that common basic structures of both action and grammar arose in phylogeny six million years ago and in ontogeny before age two, with a shared prefrontal neural substrate. In contrast, mirror neurons, found in both humans and monkeys, suggest that the neural basis for intersubjectivity evolved before language. Natural selection acts upon genes controlling the neural substrates of these phenotypic language functions.

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