You are here: Home Publications Insights into the genetic foundations of human communication

Insights into the genetic foundations of human communication

Graham, S. A., Deriziotis, P., & Fisher, S. E. (2015). Insights into the genetic foundations of human communication. Neuropsychology Review, 25(1), 3-26. doi:10.1007/s11065-014-9277-2.
The human capacity to acquire sophisticated language is unmatched in the animal kingdom. Despite the discontinuity in communicative abilities between humans and other primates, language is built on ancient genetic foundations, which are being illuminated by comparative genomics. The genetic architecture of the language faculty is also being uncovered by research into neurodevelopmental disorders that disrupt the normally effortless process of language acquisition. In this article, we discuss the strategies that researchers are using to reveal genetic factors contributing to communicative abilities, and review progress in identifying the relevant genes and genetic variants. The first gene directly implicated in a speech and language disorder was FOXP2. Using this gene as a case study, we illustrate how evidence from genetics, molecular cell biology, animal models and human neuroimaging has converged to build a picture of the role of FOXP2 in neurodevelopment, providing a framework for future endeavors to bridge the gaps between genes, brains and behavior
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213

Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn