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Colloquium: Benjamin Campbell

May 3, 2019, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Linguistics Department Colloquium:

Benjamin Campbell (Department of Anthropology, UWM)

The Role of the Insula in the Emergence of Human Language

Language is a hallmark of the human species and its evolutionary origins have long been the topic of speculation among anthropologists, linguists and evolutionary biologists. However, despite a raft of evolutionary scenarios the emergence of language from pre-existing primate communication remains improbable as long as language can’t be shown to be an honest signal. In this talk I discuss the role of the insula as a neurological structure linking emotion and sensation with language production. Doing so reveals the important of bodily awareness of self and others as the key factor in enabling communication to act as a socially cooperative behavior within primates, a trait that has been taken to new heights in humans. I then speculate about the existence of red ochre in the human evolutionary record as an indication of the origins of full blown self-consciousness and language.


May 3, 2019
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Category:


Holton 180