Neurobiological roots of language in primate audition: common computational properties

Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 Mar;19(3):142-50. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.12.008. Epub 2015 Jan 15.


Here, we present a new perspective on an old question: how does the neurobiology of human language relate to brain systems in nonhuman primates? We argue that higher-order language combinatorics, including sentence and discourse processing, can be situated in a unified, cross-species dorsal-ventral streams architecture for higher auditory processing, and that the functions of the dorsal and ventral streams in higher-order language processing can be grounded in their respective computational properties in primate audition. This view challenges an assumption, common in the cognitive sciences, that a nonhuman primate model forms an inherently inadequate basis for modeling higher-level language functions.

Keywords: auditory objects; dual pathways; language; nonhuman primate model; sequence processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Primates / physiology*