Finding the brain's common language

By Erin Wayman, 16:24 PM September 25, 2013

Erich Jarvis dreams of creating a talking chimpanzee. If his theories on language are right, that just might happen one day.

Jarvis says that the ability to imitate sounds, not higher intelligence, is the key to language. Most animals are born already knowing the calls they’ll croon, but human babies learn words by mimicking how others talk. “I argue it’s what makes spoken language unique,” says Jarvis, a neurobiologist at Duke University Medical Center.

That realization came from an unlikely p...

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