Toward A Genetics of Language
The past decade has brought important new advances in the fields of genetics, behavioral genetics, linguistics, language acquisition, studies of language impairment, and brain imaging. Although these advances are each highly relevant to the determination of what a child is innately prepared to bring to language acquisition, the contributing fields of endeavor have traditionally been relatively self-contained, with little cross communication. This volume was developed with the belief that there is considerable value to be gained in the creation of a shared platform for a dialogue across the disciplines.
Leading experts in genetics, linguistics, language acquisition, language impairment, and brain imaging are brought together for the purpose of exploring the current evidence, theoretical issues, and research challenges in a way that bridges disciplinary boundaries and points toward future developments in the search for the genetic and environmental bases of language acquisition and impairments. This collection provides discussions and summaries of:
*breakthrough findings of the genetic underpinnings of dyslexia;
*theoretical and empirical developments in the specification of a phenotype of language acquisition and impairment;
*evidence of familiarity and twin concordances of specific language impairment; and
*new evidence from brain imaging.
It concludes with a critical response from an advocate of rational empiricism.
"This book brings together leading researchers from molecular biology, neuroanatomy, linguistics, cognitive science, and psychology to discuss how far we have come in our search for the genes that underlie our unique linguistic capacity. As we draw close to the end of the decade of the brain, this book presents in one place much of the most significant research on language that has been done in this century. With the publication of the volume, Mabel Rice has provided an integrated, informed perspective on this research at exactly the right time. The exciting findings that are reported throughout the book confirm how close we are to breaking the ultimate genetic code. They will surely stimulate further research over the next few years that may allow us to realize the end of our search for how human genes encode our capacity for language. This is a wonderful book that deserves a prominent position on the bookshelves of all researchers who are interested in the most exciting questions of our time."
University of Massachusetts, Boston
"This important and exciting book offers the beginnings of a framework within which behavioral scientists and geneticists may work together to address contributions of heredity and environment to the acquisition of language. Crucial genetics concepts are presented in a manner accessible to language researchers. Together, the chapters provide a balanced view of both the contributions genetic research may be expected to make to our understanding of language impairments and the contributions more specified definitions of language impairment may make to our understanding of human genetics."
—Carolyn B. Mervis