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Tool-use-associated sound in the evolution of language
Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. Örebro University Hospital. The Cardiology-Lung Clinic; Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
2015 (English)In: Animal Cognition, ISSN 1435-9448, E-ISSN 1435-9456, Vol. 18, no 5, 993-1005 p.Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Proponents of the motor theory of language evolution have primarily focused on the visual domain and communication through observation of movements. In the present paper, it is hypothesized that the production and perception of sound, particularly of incidental sound of locomotion (ISOL) and tool-use sound (TUS), also contributed. Human bipedalism resulted in rhythmic and more predictable ISOL. It has been proposed that this stimulated the evolution of musical abilities, auditory working memory, and abilities to produce complex vocalizations and to mimic natural sounds. Since the human brain proficiently extracts information about objects and events from the sounds they produce, TUS, and mimicry of TUS, might have achieved an iconic function. The prevalence of sound symbolism in many extant languages supports this idea. Self-produced TUS activates multimodal brain processing (motor neurons, hearing, proprioception, touch, vision), and TUS stimulates primate audiovisual mirror neurons, which is likely to stimulate the development of association chains. Tool use and auditory gestures involve motor processing of the forelimbs, which is associated with the evolution of vertebrate vocal communication. The production, perception, and mimicry of TUS may have resulted in a limited number of vocalizations or protowords that were associated with tool use. A new way to communicate about tools, especially when out of sight, would have had selective advantage. A gradual change in acoustic properties and/or meaning could have resulted in arbitrariness and an expanded repertoire of words. Humans have been increasingly exposed to TUS over millions of years, coinciding with the period during which spoken language evolved. ISOL and tool-use-related sound are worth further exploration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 18, no 5, 993-1005 p.
Keyword [en]
Gestures, Mirror neuron, Speech, Music, Bipedal gait, Sound symbolism
National Category
Zoology Medical Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-45801DOI: 10.1007/s10071-015-0885-xISI: 000359992500001PubMedID: 26118672Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84939572563OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-45801DiVA: diva2:854402
Note

Funding Agency:

Cardiology-Lung Clinic, Örebro University Hospital

Available from: 2015-09-16 Created: 2015-09-15 Last updated: 2017-10-18Bibliographically approved

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School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, SwedenÖrebro University Hospital
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