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{bio,medical} informatics

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

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find related articles. powered by google. New Scientist Gene study gives language lesson

"Two mutations in a human language gene have been strongly selected for over the past 200,000 years, new research shows. The finding provides evidence for the idea that language spread by giving a major survival or mating advantage to those who possessed it, and that it is not merely a handy by-product of big brains."

"Pinker believes the analytical approach used is powerful: "It's not an idle just-so story to say that something is a product of selection." The work demonstrates that the two mutations were rushed through the population because they conferred a considerable advantage, he says."

redux [10.04.01]
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.

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. 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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