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Chattering chimps think like humans

Written by: Staff

Washington, Mar 2: Chimpanzees may have a 'language- ready' brain enabling them to think like us while communicating. New study published in the journal Current Biology shows that a key part of the brain known as Broca's area used by humans when communicating is also used by chimps.

''Chimpanzee communicative behavior shares many characteristics with human language, these similarities extend to the way in which our brains produce and process communicative signals,'' said Jared Taglialatela of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, Georgia. The researchers interpret this similarity is because chimpanzees may have a language-ready brain. ''One interpretation of our results is that chimpanzees have, in essence, a 'language-ready brain, by this, we are suggesting that apes are born with and use the brain areas identified here when producing signals that are part ' of their communicative repertoire,'' he said.

The results also suggest that the ''neurobiological foundations'' of human language may have been present in the common ancestor of modern humans and chimpanzees, he said.

''We didn't know if or to what extent other primates, and particularly humans' closest ancestor, the chimpanzees, possess a comparable region involved in the production of their own communicative signals,'' Taglialatela said.

In the new study, the researchers non-invasively scanned the brains of three chimpanzees as they gestured and called to a person in request for food that was out of their reach. Those chimps showed activation in the brain region corresponding to Broca's area and in other areas involved in complex motor planning and action in humans, the researchers found.


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