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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Dissection of molecular mechanisms underlying speech and language disorders
Author: Simon E. Fisher
Institution: Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics
Linguistic Field: Neurolinguistics; Psycholinguistics
Abstract: Developmental disorders affecting speech and language are highly heritable, but very little is currently understood about the neuromolecular mechanisms that underlie these traits. Integration of data from diverse research areas, including linguistics, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, genetics, molecular neuroscience, developmental biology, and evolutionary anthropology, is becoming essential for unraveling the relevant pathways. Recent studies of the FOXP2 gene provide a case in point. Mutation of FOXP2 causes a rare form of speech and language disorder, and the gene appears to be a crucial regulator of embryonic development for several tissues. Molecular investigations of the central nervous system indicate that the gene may be involved in establishing and maintaining connectivity of corticostriatal and olivocerebellar circuits in mammals. Notably, it has been shown that FOXP2 was subject to positive selection in recent human evolution. Consideration of findings from multiple levels of analysis demonstrates that FOXP2 cannot be characterized as "the gene for speech," but rather as one critical piece of a complex puzzle. This story gives a flavor of what is to come in this field and indicates that anyone expecting simple explanations of etiology or evolution should be prepared for some intriguing surprises.


This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 26, Issue 1.

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