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Media: Human Language Gene Changes How Mice Squeak

Submitter: Dave Sayers

Submitter Email:
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