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Language, Music, and the BrainA Mysterious Relationship$
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Michael A. Arbib

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262018104

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018104.001.0001

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Evolving the Language-and Music- Ready Brain

Evolving the Language-and Music- Ready Brain

(p.481) 19 Evolving the Language-and Music- Ready Brain
Language, Music, and the Brain

Michael A. Arbib

Atsushi Iriki

The MIT Press

This chapter focuses on the evolution of the language-ready brain, offering triadic niche construction as the framework in which to see the interaction between the environmental niche, the cognitive niche, and the neural potential latent in the genome at any stage of evolution. This framework enriches the presentation of the mirror system hypothesis, which traces an evolutionary path from mirror neurons for the recognition of manual actions, via systems that support increasingly complex forms of imitation, to the emergence of pantomime, protosign, and protospeech. This hypothesis is briefly contrasted with the Darwinian musical protolanguage hypothesis, which roots the evolution of language ability in a birdsong-like ability coupled to increasing cognitive complexity. The linkage of both language and music to outward bodily expression and social interaction is stressed and, in conclusion, the evolution of the music-ready brain is discussed. Published in the Strungmann Forum Reports Series.

Keywords:   triadic niche construction, mirror system hypothesis, imitation, pantomime, protosign, protospeech, Darwinian musical protolanguage hypothesis, birdsong, neural evolution of music, neural evolution of language

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