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The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Human Brain

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7211.715 (Published 11 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:715
  1. Patrick Morrison, clinical geneticist
  1. Department of Medical Genetics, Belfast City Hospital

    Terrence Deacon


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    Penguin Press, £8.99, pp 527

    ISBN 0 14 026405 1

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    Terrence Deacon, fresh from mingling pig and rat brains in his xenotransplantation lab, shows how humans are unique in the use of language and how, through “symbolic reference,” complex networks in the highly developed frontal cortex allow us to think using symbols. This book is in three parts: “Language” focuses on the nature of language and why it is confined to humans, “Brain” shows how the brain produces language, and “Co-evolution” allows a synthesis of conclusions about how both have evolved.

    My 8 year …

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