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Steven Brown

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior
McMaster University

Human Vocalization: Its Evolution and its Use to Study Evolutionary Migrations

Friday, November 21, 2009
Lecture Hall 8, 4:00 PM

Abstract

Human beings are among a handful of animal groups that have the capacity for vocal learning. Vocal imitation provides a basis for both the developmental acquisition and cultural evolution of languages and musical systems. I will present neuroimaging findings on the identification of a larynx-controlling area in human motor cortex, and discuss the evolutionary implications when looking at larynx representations in the non-human primate brain. Moving then to a cultural view of vocalization, I’ll make mention of work investigating the potential use vocal forms, mainly song styles, as markers for the analysis of human migrations, with a focus on the Austronesian expansion.

Biography

Steven Brown is a cognitive neuroscientist working in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He got his Ph.D. in the department of Genetics at Columbia University in New York, and did postdoctoral research at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. His research deals with the neural basis of human communication processes, with a focus on the arts. He is co-editor of two books: “The Origins of Music” (MIT Press) and “Music and Manipulation” (Berghahn Books).

Readings

  1. A Larynx Area in the Human Motor Cortex
  2. So You Think You Can dance? PET Scans Reveal Your Inner Brain’s Choreography

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