LINGUIST List 5.425

Wed 13 Apr 1994

FYI: Neurolinguistic Evolution: BBS Call for Commentators

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. "Stevan Harnad", Neurolinguistic Evlution: BBS Call for Commentators

Message 1: Neurolinguistic Evlution: BBS Call for Commentators

Date: Wed, 13 Apr 94 05:42:05 EDNeurolinguistic Evlution: BBS Call for Commentators
From: "Stevan Harnad" <harnadPrinceton.EDU>
Subject: Neurolinguistic Evlution: BBS Call for Commentators

 Below is the abstract of a forthcoming target article by:

 W. W. Wilkins & J. Wakefield

This article has been accepted for publication in Behavioral and Brain
Sciences (BBS), an international, interdisciplinary journal providing
Open Peer Commentary on important and controversial current research in
the biobehavioral and cognitive sciences.

Commentators must be current BBS Associates or nominated by a current
BBS Associate. To be considered as a commentator for this article, to
suggest other appropriate commentators, or for information about how to
become a BBS Associate, please send email to: or harnadpucc.bitnet or write to:
BBS, 20 Nassau Street, #240, Princeton NJ 08542 [tel: 609-921-7771]

To help us put together a balanced list of commentators, please give
some indication of the aspects of the topic on which you would bring
your areas of expertise to bear if you were selected as a commentator.
An electronic draft of the full text is available for inspection by
anonymous ftp according to the instructions that follow after the abstract.


 Wendy K. Wilkins
 Department of English
 Arizona State University
 Tempe, AZ 85287-0302

 Jennie Wakefield
 Department of Speech and Hearing
 Arizona State University
 Tempe, AZ 85287-1908

 ABSTRACT: This target article presents a plausible evolutionary
 scenario for the emergence of the neural preconditions for language
 in the hominid lineage. In pleistocene primate lineages there was a
 paired evolutionary expansion of frontal and parietal neocortex
 (through certain well-documented adaptive changes associated with
 manipulative behaviors) resulting, in ancestral hominids, in an
 incipient Broca's region and in a configurationally unique junction
 of the parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes of the brain (the
 POT). On our view, the development of the POT in our ancestors
 resulted in the neuroanatomical substrate consistent with the
 ability for representations in modality-neutral association cortex
 and, as a result of structure-imposing interaction with Broca's
 area, the hierarchically structured "conceptual structure." Evidence
 from paleoneurology and comparative primate neuroanatomy is used to
 argue that Homo habilis (2.5-2 million years ago) was the first
 hominid to have the appropriate gross neuroanatomical configuration
 to support conceptual structure. We thus suggest that the neural
 preconditions for language are met in H. habilis. Finally, we
 advocate a theory of language acquisition that uses conceptual
 structure as input to the learning procedures, thus bridging the
 gap between it and language.

 KEYWORDS: biology of language; conceptual structure; evolution;
 Homo habilis; language acquisition; neurolinguistics; origin of
 language; paleoneurology; preadaptation; sensorimotor feedback

To help you decide whether you would be an appropriate commentator for
this article, an electronic draft is retrievable by anonymous ftp from according to the instructions below (the filename is
bbs.wilkins). Please do not prepare a commentary on this draft.
Just let us know, after having inspected it, what relevant expertise
you feel you would bring to bear on what aspect of the article.
The file is also retrievable using archie, gopher, veronica, etc.

 To retrieve a file by ftp from an Internet site, type either:
 When you are asked for your login, type:
 Enter password as queried (your password is your actual userid:
 yourloginyourhost.whatever.whatever - be sure to include the "")
cd /pub/harnad/BBS
 To show the available files, type:
 Next, retrieve the file you want with (for example):
get bbs.wilkins
 When you have the file(s) you want, type:

These files can also be retrieved using gopher, archie, veronica, etc.

Where the above procedure is not available there are two fileservers:
that will do the transfer for you. To one or the
other of them, send the following one line message:


for instructions (which will be similar to the above, but will be in
the form of a series of lines in an email message that ftpmail or
bitftp will then execute for you).

JANET users without ftp can instead utilise the file transfer facilities
at sites or Full details are available on
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