Genetics and the Language Sciences
Fisher, S. E., & Vernes, S. C.
Genetics and the Language Sciences. Annual Review of Linguistics, 1
, 289-310. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-125024.
Theories addressing the biological basis of language must be built on
an appreciation of the ways that molecular and neurobiological substrates
can contribute to aspects of human cognition. Here, we lay out
the principles by which a genome could potentially encode the necessary
information to produce a language-ready brain. We describe
what genes are; how they are regulated; and how they affect the formation,
function, and plasticity of neuronal circuits. At each step,
we give examples of molecules implicated in pathways that are important
for speech and language. Finally, we discuss technological advances
in genomics that are revealing considerable genotypic variation in
the human population, from rare mutations to common polymorphisms,
with the potential to relate this variation to natural variability
in speech and language skills. Moving forward, an interdisciplinary
approach to the language sciences, integrating genetics, neurobiology,
psychology, and linguistics, will be essential for a complete understanding
of our unique human capacities.