Skip to main content


Evolution of human language abilities

Research Achievements

Evolution of human language abilities

Sherwood and colleagues have revealed patterns of brain asymmetry in chimpanzees, one of our species' closest living relatives, which shed light on the evolution of human language abilities. Notably, they have found that parts of the language-associated cortical pathway involved in hearing and understanding language show human-like leftward asymmetry in structure, whereas frontal lobe areas important for language production and syntax do not show human-like asymmetry. An IGERT PhD student trainee in Hominid Paleobiology was involved in this research. These findings were published in the journals Cerebral Cortex and the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. The New Scientist magazine (8/2009) and Science News (7/2009) covered these studies.