Bards, Poets, and Cliques: Frequency-Dependent Selection and the Evolution of Language Genes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ability of humans to communicate via language is a complex, adapted phenotype, which undoubtedly has a recently evolved genetic component. However, the evolutionary dynamics of language-associated alleles are poorly understood. To improve our knowledge of such systems, a population-genetics model for language-associated genes is developed. (The model is general and applicable to social interactions other than communication.) When an allele arises that potentially improves the ability of individuals to communicate, it will experience positive frequency-dependent selection because its fitness will depend on how many other individuals communicate the same way. Consequently, new and rare alleles are selected against, posing a problem for the evolutionary origin of language. However, the model shows that if individuals form language-based cliques, then novel language-associated alleles can sweep through a population. Thus, the origin of language ability can be sufficiently explained by Darwinian processes operating on genetic diversity in a finite population of human ancestors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2201-2212
Number of pages12
JournalBulletin of mathematical biology
Volume73
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Assortative interaction
  • Dynamics
  • FOXP2
  • Language faculty
  • Pairwise interaction
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pharmacology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Bards, Poets, and Cliques: Frequency-Dependent Selection and the Evolution of Language Genes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this