The "Language Gene" Turns Ten

By Carl Zimmer | October 17, 2011 3:18 pm

Ten years ago this month, a team of University of Oxford scientists published a description of a family who struggled with words. By comparing their DNA, the scientists zeroed in for the first time on a gene associated with language, dubbed FOXP2. In my newest column in Discover, I look back at what scientists have learned over the past decade about how FOXP2 works, and what it tells us–or leaves us wondering–about how language evolved. Check it out.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Brains, Evolution, Writing Elsewhere

Comments (3)

  1. still remember where i was sitting when i first heard about foxp2….

  2. miko

    Most importantly, we’ve learned a few things about FoxP2 that underscore the idea that there is not and could not be any such thing as a “language gene” in any biologically meaningful sense.

    [CZ: Indeed. Hence the quotation marks in the headline]


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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