Skip navigation
Hardcover | $10.75 Short | £7.95 | ISBN: 9780262151115 | 352 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 36 illus.| July 2004

Evolution of Communication Systems

A Comparative Approach

Overview

The search for origins of communication in a wide variety of species including humans is rapidly becoming a thoroughly interdisciplinary enterprise. In this volume, scientists engaged in the fields of evolutionary biology, linguistics, animal behavior, developmental psychology, philosophy, the cognitive sciences, robotics, and neural network modeling come together to explore a comparative approach to the evolution of communication systems. The comparisons range from parrot talk to squid skin displays, from human language to Aibo the robot dog's language learning, and from monkey babbling to the newborn human infant cry. The authors explore the mysterious circumstances surrounding the emergence of human language, which they propose to be intricately connected with drastic changes in human lifestyle. While it is not yet clear what the physical environmental circumstances were that fostered social changes in the hominid line, the volume offers converging evidence and theory from several lines of research suggesting that language depended upon the restructuring of ancient human social groups.The volume also offers new theoretical treatments of both primitive communication systems and human language, providing new perspectives on how to recognize both their similarities and their differences. Explorations of new technologies in robotics, neural network modeling and pattern recognition offer many opportunities to simulate and evaluate theoretical proposals.The North American and European scientists who have contributed to this volume represent a vanguard of thinking about how humanity came to have the capacity for language and how nonhumans provide a background of remarkable capabilities that help clarify the foundations of speech.

About the Editor

D. Kimbrough Oller is Professor and Plough Chair of Excellence in the School of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Memphis and an external faculty member of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research, Altenberg, Austria. He is coeditor, with Ulrike Griebel, of Evolution of Communications Systems: A Comparative Approach (MIT Press, 2004).

Endorsements

““It has been said that as children we wrestle with the deepest mysteries of our time – the mind-body problem, the existence of God – but that adulthood’s common emphasis on conformity purges this intellectual curiosity. In Tom Roeper's able hands we are treated to a journey back to this period of intense curiosity and mental growth – one characterized by an exuberance of questions and comments, each reflecting intricate computations of the mind. But Roeper goes further and, with great courage and insight, attempts to show how the study of child language illuminates a much broader range of topics, from our capacity for free will to our often unconscious prejudices.”--Marc D. Hauser, Harvard College Professor, author of *Moral Minds*”