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Thursday, October 04, 2001

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find related articles. powered by google. The New York Times Scientists Report Finding a Gene for Speech
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"A team of geneticists and linguists say they have found a gene that underlies speech and language, the first to be linked to this uniquely human faculty.

The discovery buttresses the idea that language is acquired and generated by specific neural circuitry in the brain, rather than by general brain faculties."

find related articles. powered by google. BioMedNet Cognitive science reaps its first fruits of genome project
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"The discovery of the first language gene heralds the "dawn of cognitive genetics," says one of the world's leading speech and language experts. "Cognitive scientists haven't looked at genes at all," said Steve Pinker, professor of cognitive science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

"The findings should encourage other cognitive scientists to join forces with geneticists. "I think it will be a hot new field," he said. "It will be part of behavioral genetics (BG), [which] already exists, but the Bee Gees in the past have tended to look at very coarse traits like IQ or personality test scores, not fine-grained mental talents."

find related articles. powered by google. Wired News First Language Gene Found

"The discovery of the gene is fueling the ongoing debate about the relationship between genes and higher cognitive functions like language.

Some researchers argue that the KE family proves the existence of a "grammar gene."

While few researchers would claim that language and genes are not related, there has been little evidence so far that language is directly encoded in our genes.

At stake is a popular theory, originated by Noam Chomsky, about language and the brain.

find related articles. powered by google. The Third Culture Marc D. Hauser

"For humans, Chomsky's insights into the computational mechanisms underlying language really revolutionized the field, even though not all would agree with the approach he has taken. Nonetheless, the fact that he pointed to the universality of many linguistic features, and the poverty of the input for the child acquiring language, suggested that an innate computational mechanism must be at play. This insight revolutionized the field of linguistics, and set much of the cognitive sciences in motion. That's a verbal claim, and as Chomsky himself would quickly recognize, we really don't know how the brain generates such computation."

find related articles. powered by google. Brain and Language An On-Line Interview with Noam Chomsky: On the nature of pragmatics and related issues

"The way to make the general assumptions less obscure is to discover the nature of the various specialized "learning mechanisms" -- the systems LT(O,D), in my terminology -- among them the "language organ" FL, the states it can in principle attain, the "neural circuits" involved, etc. That is also the way to arrive at one or another " the domain-generality vs. domain-specificity debate," a very tentative position I would think, given the limits of current understanding. I concede that I don't really understand what this debate is about in the way it is usually waged (without my participation). There are very interesting questions about just what might be specific to human language (part of LT(Human, Language), the dedicated "learning mechanism" that is the "language organ"). These are the topics of inquiry in all study of language and other cognitive systems that I know of. But I do not understand the more general "debate" that seems to arouse much passion."

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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