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Christopher Petkov, Tuesday March 15

STRUCTURED SEQUENCE PROCESSING, LANGUAGE EVOLUTION AND THE PRIMATE BRAIN

Christopher I. Petkov 
Laboratory of Comparative Neuropsychology, Newcastle University
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/ion/staff/profile/chrispetkov.html#background

Many animals are not thought to be able to combine their vocalizations into structured sequences, as do songbirds, humans and a few other species. Nonetheless, it remains possible that many animals are able to recognize certain types of structured sequences generated by ‘artificial grammars’. In this lecture, I aim to explore how understanding the extent of these hidden sequence learning abilities in animals could help us to better understand the origins of language and be useful for neurobiological pursuits. I first overview some of our behavioral results with structured sequence processing in three species of primates: marmosets, macaques and humans. I then describe fMRI results identifying the brain regions in macaques that are involved in these forms of sequence processing and compare the macaque results to observations obtained with fMRI in humans and chimpanzees using the same paradigm. Finally, I will show data from comparative direct recordings in the human and monkey brain processing the sequences, revealing intriguing neuronal dynamics in auditory cortex that are strikingly similar across the species. Couching the results within the broader literature shows evidence for intriguing commonalities across the species as well as informative differences, both of which continue to provide insights into how the human brain functionally differentiated for language.

 

Where and when:
15:45-17:00 Mar 15, 2016
MPI Conference room 163
Organizers:
Shiri Lev-Ari
Julia Udden

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