Evolution of Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach

Evolution of Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach

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Overview

Evolution of Communication Systems: A Comparative Approach by D. Kimbrough Oller

Laying foundations for an interdisciplinary approach to the study of evolution in communication systems with tools from evolutionary biology, linguistics, animal behavior, developmental psychology, philosophy, cognitive sciences, robotics, and neural network modeling.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262151115
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 07/30/2004
Series: Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.05(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


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).


Gerd B. Müller, is Professor of Zoology and Head of the Department of Theoretical Biology at the University of Vienna and President of the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research.

Table of Contents

Prefacevii
List of Contributorsix
IIntroduction1
1Theoretical and Methodological Tools for Comparison and Evolutionary Modeling of Communication Systems3
IIPhilosophical Issues: Conceptions and Foundations13
2On Reading Signs: Some Differences Between Us and the Others15
3Primitive Content, Translation, and the Emergence of Meaning in Animal Communication31
4Underpinnings for a Theory of Communicative Evolution49
IIIMethodological and Theoretical Developments for the Future of Evolutionary Study of Communication Systems67
5Social and Cultural Learning in the Evolution of Human Communication69
6The Role of Learning and Development in Language Evolution: A Connectionist Perspective91
7Repeated Patterns in Behavior and Other Biological Phenomena111
IVAnimal Communication Systems: A Comparative Basis129
8Social Processes in the Evolution of Complex Cognition and Communication131
9Human Infant Crying as an Animal Communication System: Insights from an Assessment/Management Approach151
10Evolution of Communication from an Avian Perspective171
11Cephalopod Skin Displays: From Concealment to Communication193
VPrimitive Communication Systems and Language215
12The Evolution of Language: From Signals to Symbols to System217
13Cooperation and the Evolution of Symbolic Communication237
14Language, Music, and Laughter in Evolutionary Perspective257
15Kin Selection and "Mother Tongues": A Neglected Component in Language Evolution275
16Language beyond Our Grasp: What Mirror Neurons Can, and Cannot, Do for the Evolution of Language297
17How Far Is Language beyond Our Grasp? A Response to Hurford315
VIConcluding Remarks323
18Directions for Research in Comparative Communication Systems325
Index333

What People are Saying About This

Marc D. Hause

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.

Endorsement

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. Hause, Harvard College Professor, author of Moral Minds

From the Publisher

"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*

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