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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Media: Human Language Gene Changes How Mice Squeak

Submitter: Dave Sayers

Submitter Email: dave.sayers@cantab.net
Linguistic Field(s): Psycholinguistics
Cognitive Science
Language Acquisition

Media Body: View the full article here:

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in
Leipzig, Germany have engineered a mouse whose FOXP2 gene has been swapped
out for a different (human) version. This is interesting because the gene
is implicated in human language, and this has changed how mice squeak. 'In
a region of the brain called the basal ganglia, known in people to be
involved in language, the humanized mice grew nerve cells that had a more
complex structure. Baby mice utter ultrasonic whistles when removed from
their mothers. The humanized baby mice, when isolated, made whistles that
had a slightly lower pitch, among other differences, Dr. Enard says. Dr.
Enard argues that putting significant human genes into mice is the only
feasible way of exploring the essential differences between people and
chimps, our closest living relatives.' The academic paper was published in
Issue Number: 20.2028
Date Posted: June 01, 2009

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