Article published in:Homo Symbolicus: The dawn of language, imagination and spirituality
Edited by Christopher S. Henshilwood and Francesco d'Errico
[Not in series 168] 2011
► pp. 163–184
Chapter 9. Biology and mechanisms related to the dawn of language
The purpose of language is prediction and problem solving in the social and ecological context. Its implementation is enabled by the combination of bottom-up and top-down causation in the brain. Visual thinking develops basic abilities of pattern recognition and classification, but music and play can more effectively develop the key feature of recursion. The motivational impulse for language use starts with mother-child nurturing but moves on to the joy of imaginative play, which develops theories of other minds and basic symbolic abilities; it also easily includes music and song. Key steps towards language could be changes in neural connectivity allowing recursion to emerge, in the context of developing technological needs.
Published online: 16 November 2011