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May 28, 2009 10:40 AM   Subscribe

We will speak to the Mouse. FoxP2, a forkhead box transcription factor has long been thought to be the "language gene", as all animals that have it can communicate verbally. Without it, songbirds don't learn their songs, humans can't speak properly and mice can't make their sweet ultrasonic sounds. Human Foxp2 has been claimed to be a site of recent, strong selection in the human genome, with several alterations in sequence from our most closely related ancestors. So the question: Is the human version of FoxP2 itself a determinant for our ability to speak in ways our chimp cousins cannot?

Svante Paabo, who you may know from the Neanderthal genome work, has just published a study of Foxp2 humanized mice. Alas, the gene does not seem to function correctly, in the mousely brain context, and the ultrasonic vocalizations of the humanized mice are impaired. Apparently a single gene is not enough to humanize.
But what if it worked? what sort of world would we be living in if the reverse Doolittle were possible?
Previously on Metafilter
posted by Cold Lurkey (56 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, the obvious next step is to create Foxp2 humanized chimps, right?
posted by dunkadunc at 10:43 AM on May 28, 2009


Also, here's bugmenot for people who don't have a NYT account.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:44 AM on May 28, 2009


Very interesting work. Obviously a shot in the dark, but a worthwhile one.

Thanks, Cold Lurkey.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:45 AM on May 28, 2009


There are things man was not meant to know...

I'm speaking seriously when I say that I'm not sure these are experiments we should be doing. I'm no Luddite, but I'm concerned about the ethics of creating partially human genetic chimeras.

When it comes to something like moving the insulin gene, that's one thing, But when you're talking about moving genes which are thought to be involved in human intelligence, what if you succeed? If you create a talking dog, is it entitled to civil rights?

Let's not go there, OK?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:52 AM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


from the NYT article:

There is no good way of genetically engineering chimps, even it were ethically acceptable, so the mouse is the testbed of choice, in Dr. Enard’s view.
posted by marchismo at 10:53 AM on May 28, 2009


Now that we have green fluorescent protein-expressing chimps, Foxp2 chimps must be next.

Now there's a dilemma for PETA - speaking chimps would be the greatest argument for primate rights but you have to engage in animal research to enable it.
posted by benzenedream at 10:55 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"forkhead box transcription factor"

It's been awhile since I have stared at four consecutive English words for so long, while having no fucking clue what they meant.

I am humbled.
posted by rokusan at 10:59 AM on May 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


re: We will talk to the mouse:

"Computer? Computer? Hello, computer?"
"Just use the keyboard!"
"A keyboard? How quaint..."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:02 AM on May 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


If you create a talking dog, is it entitled to civil rights?

Would that be so bad? I'd love to have some sapient non-humans around. We could make great strides in both human and animal psychology and medicine.

Anyway, if the manipulation is limited only to the ability to make complex vocalizations and does not affect the underlying capacity for complex thoughts, then I don't think it would be entitled to any more rights than a typical dog.

Consider a severely physically (but not mentally) disabled person. He or she still has all of the underlying cognitive faculties, but cannot readily express those thoughts. He or she would, of course, still be entitled to the usual gamut of civil rights. It seems, then, that it's the thoughts that count (rimshot).
posted by jedicus at 11:04 AM on May 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Apparently a single gene is not enough to humanize.

Some have human genes and yet still fail the humanity test.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 AM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chocolate Pickle When it comes to something like moving the insulin gene, that's one thing, But when you're talking about moving genes which are thought to be involved in human intelligence, what if you succeed? If you create a talking dog, is it entitled to civil rights?

But this is more about language ability than intelligence, right? Vervet monkeys have been shown to have dozens of words, once we cracked their proto-language. Presumably, then, chimps and gorillas have even more, maybe hundreds or thousands of words, but are incapable of expanding that into a full-blown language because they are limited by this gene. Great apes, or Chimps and Gorillas at least, seem to have the intelligence for more, since they have picked up sign language. (And keep in mind, that's a foreign language for them.) Giving them the capacity to expand their language doesn't mean we're engineering intelligence they don't already have, does it?

Or put another way, a Chimp is probably already entitled to some rights, whether it talks or not. (And I say this as very much not an animal person.) A talking dog wouldn't have the same intelligence, talking or not, and so it's speech wouldn't automatically be more sophisticated than it's current barking- it wouldn't be smarter simply because it could now vocalize "noise alarms me", "go away from this yard" or "that squirrel needs to be bitten".
posted by spaltavian at 11:15 AM on May 28, 2009


If you create a talking dog, is it entitled to civil rights?

Yes, and it will even be allowed it's own boy.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:18 AM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder if humans have considerably larger brains because once we started being able to talk we could actually put a larger brain to use.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:20 AM on May 28, 2009


Anyway, if the manipulation is limited only to the ability to make complex vocalizations

This is the important point. Talking does not equal "thinking".
posted by spicynuts at 11:20 AM on May 28, 2009


I wonder if humans have considerably larger brains because once we started being able to talk we could actually put a larger brain to use.

Consider that those who talk the most seem to use their brains the least.
posted by peeedro at 11:27 AM on May 28, 2009


"noise alarms me"

noise alarms me too

i'm pretty hungry

where did jessamyn go
posted by Greg Nog at 11:27 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


don't we have enough talking chimps already? I think most of them are on twitter and I can't be certain they deserve human rights in any case.
posted by fistynuts at 11:28 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it possible to keep the FoxP2 gene while disabling the FoxNewsP2 gene? That would raise the average IQ of humans a significant amount.
posted by wendell at 11:44 AM on May 28, 2009


That would raise the average IQ of humans a significant amount.

Challenge! statistics geek to the rescue
posted by fistynuts at 11:48 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


what sort of world would we be living in if the reverse Doolittle were possible?

if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard.
posted by JHarris at 11:52 AM on May 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Consider a severely physically (but not mentally) disabled person. He or she still has all of the underlying cognitive faculties, but cannot readily express those thoughts. He or she would, of course, still be entitled to the usual gamut of civil rights.

um. Not comfortable with the implied converse here, that a person who's mentally disabled but physically fit isn't entitled to civil rights. I'll assume that's not what you meant.

As for "rights" for animals, well, I'm very skeptical of applying these anthrogenic concepts to other species. For me, human rights at their most basic are very much a quid pro quo; I acknowledge your basic human rights because I hope you will mine. And even criminals who violate this compact have some basic rights still, because in providing a minimum standard of treatment for all humans, we hope to ensure that we will receive the same even at our worst. Chimps may have reasonably complex language and society, they'll still eat your face off for any number of reasons. Also, lets try to get all humans some basic decent treatment first?

Plus, we've already seen numerous times that giving cats language only results in endless, poorly spelled and grammatically incorrect requests for Cheeseburgers.
posted by ScotchRox at 11:56 AM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]



As for "rights" for animals, well, I'm very skeptical of applying these anthrogenic concepts to other species.


Why? What if dogs started talking and could tell you how painful and de-canine-izing (???) it is to be spayed/neutered and essentially robbed of their sexual lives? Would you not apply an anthrogenic concept to that suffering because 'well they are just dogs'?
posted by spicynuts at 12:00 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please note - the above is a HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION presented for the purposes of engaging in philosophical debate. I do not, in fact, think that being spayed/neutered is any of what I've said above or that dogs should therefore not be...etc etc
posted by spicynuts at 12:01 PM on May 28, 2009


Great apes, or Chimps and Gorillas at least, seem to have the intelligence for more, since they have picked up sign language. (And keep in mind, that's a foreign language for them.)

There are studies where researchers attempted to teach chimps and gorillas sign language or to use other forms of communication (such as touching icons on a computer screen), but to say that they learned any language approaching human language is misleading.

There are many key aspects of human language, such as the ability to make up new words or phrases and the ability to refer to past events, that are not present in most or all animal languages, including the ones used in those studies. None of the chimps or gorillas picked up on a lot of language conventions that even very young children understand (such as taking turns in a conversation).

It's possible to argue that most of their communication was basically conditioned by the researchers and not any more impressive than B.F. Skinner teaching pigeons to play ping pong. For example, one chimp's longest sentence after being in an extended language study was "Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you," which doesn't really show much more than an ability to randomly repeat signs related to being fed.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:08 PM on May 28, 2009


you people are ignoring the real reason to genetically engineer intelligent animals: to have more people to sell stuff to! The FoxP2 gene is just a first step; what we really need are animals that can recite their master's credit card number over the phone.
posted by happyroach at 12:09 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do I really want a dog to be saying something to me while he's humping my leg?
posted by eyeballkid at 12:11 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the important point. Talking does not equal "thinking".

Hence, right-wing talk radio.

But the biggest thing to look out for once we start splicing verbal genes into animals might be something like this.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:22 PM on May 28, 2009


Even if this genengineering somehow worked on the mice (in the sense that it fit into their phenotype without impairing existing abilities), it probably wouldn't give them the ability to talk like humans do. I think the key concept that's needed for language is self awareness. If a creature can seperate "me" from "everything else," that automatically gives them a leg up on the process of symbolic representation. But creatures like mice don't have that self awareness, so there's no split in their mind between themselves and the world. For them, everything is sensation and emotion, and if you could somehow teach them a few words, all they'd do is make declarative statements like "Hungry!" "Thirsty!" "Afraid!" "Run!"

To get any further than that you need an animal like a gorilla, chimp, parrot, corvid or dolphin. And even then progress might still be rough, since self awareness doesn't seem to be automatic for most species. For instance, younger animals recognize themselves in a mirror more readily than older ones, so maybe brain plasticity plays a role.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:30 PM on May 28, 2009


if the manipulation is limited only to the ability to make complex vocalizations and does not affect the underlying capacity for complex thoughts

Jesus Christ, I can hardly imagine anything more awful than a dog with the same intelligence being able to speak. Now, a smarter but still "dumb" dog would be cool.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:31 PM on May 28, 2009


But the biggest thing to look out for once we start splicing verbal genes into animals might be something like this.

WATERSHIP DOWN 40K: THE SEVENTH APOCALYPSE. The special effects will make you go tharn!

(And regarding the post title, may I just add: POIT?)
posted by JHarris at 12:34 PM on May 28, 2009


Jesus Christ, I can hardly imagine anything more awful than a dog with the same intelligence being able to speak.

I don't know. There'd definitely be problems with "uplifting" animals David Brin style, but there'd also be some major benefits as well. Imagine what it would be like to have the perspective and advice of a trully non-human intelligence on environmental matters...
posted by Kevin Street at 12:43 PM on May 28, 2009


First conversation with a mouse...

"You can understand me? Awesome. Let me make this clear: Get me the FUCK out of here, you asshole!"
posted by Chuffy at 12:51 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Imagine what it would be like to have the perspective and advice of a trully non-human intelligence on environmental matters...

Oh yeah, the oil companies would love that.
posted by JHarris at 12:52 PM on May 28, 2009


Ha! Great title, Brain!
posted by maryh at 12:52 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


burnmp3s: Spaltavian: Great apes, or Chimps and Gorillas at least, seem to have the intelligence for more, since they have picked up sign language. (And keep in mind, that's a foreign language for them.)


There are studies where researchers attempted to teach chimps and gorillas sign language or to use other forms of communication (such as touching icons on a computer screen), but to say that they learned any language approaching human language is misleading.

There are many key aspects of human language, such as the ability to make up new words or phrases and the ability to refer to past events, that are not present in most or all animal languages, including the ones used in those studies. None of the chimps or gorillas picked up on a lot of language conventions that even very young children understand (such as taking turns in a conversation).

It's possible to argue that most of their communication was basically conditioned by the researchers and not any more impressive than B.F. Skinner teaching pigeons to play ping pong. For example, one chimp's longest sentence after being in an extended language study was "Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you," which doesn't really show much more than an ability to randomly repeat signs related to being fed.


The problem with this is that the Vervet monkey study I referenced already indicated that the monkeys weren't using mere operant conditioning. They used specific sounds that related to specific threats, each with a different course of action. They were not using general panic noises, like a dog might. These were true words, and hence, proto-language. If monkeys can do this, the capacity for even greater is almost certainly there among the great apes. We just haven't figured out their own language yet; and they are limited by a throat structure the severely limits the variety of vocalizations they can produce.

I'm not saying apes have full language, I'm just saying the ocean that separates man's capacity for language from that of the apes is more like a lake.


ScotchRox: um Not comfortable with the implied converse here, that a person who's mentally disabled but physically fit isn't entitled to civil rights.

Civil rights aren't the same as human rights. Mentally disabled people who have been ruled incompetent don't have the same level of civil rights, namely the right to run their own lives, and others, such as voting, marriage, etc.
posted by spaltavian at 12:58 PM on May 28, 2009


Giving them the capacity to expand their language doesn't mean we're engineering intelligence they don't already have, does it?


No, I don't think so, but we had the gene long before we were as "intelligent" as we are now, so I would say that we would be giving them the ABILITY to become more intelligent. After all, if you can communicate more effectively, it pretty much opens the floodgates for evolutionary strides, doesn't it?
posted by Espoo2 at 1:14 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Oh yeah, the oil companies would love that."

That's the thing. Our society is built upon the idea that we're better than animals. Humans use animals and the environment for any purpose we like because we feel that we're worth more than they are. If a dog bites a man you shoot the dog. But what if that was no longer true, even if just for a single animal? The oil companies would only be the start of a long list of enraged people.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


News reports... from the FUTURE!

2013: The first lab mouse is given the power of speech. Immediately begins forming plans to take over the world.

2017: The speech gene is snuck into a vat of bull spunk intended for artificial insemination. An entire herd gives birth to talking calves. When they learn what fate has in store for them and the doe-eyed, photogenic calves plead for their lives on camera, public outrage leads to a ban on talking food. PETA discovers a potent new weapon for their arsenal.

2026: If they can talk they should vote, right? Sufferage rights are changed to reflect communication ability. This sounds well and good until it is discovered that marmots have a natural disposition to vote Republican. Within five years, somehow, every marmot in North America will be found able to talk.

2031: The final barrier to animal communication will be broken: all mammals will be granted the ability to Twitter, an ability previously limited to humans and birds.
posted by JHarris at 1:18 PM on May 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Once this moves forward, everytime we go to the beach, we'll have to deal with two or three young dolphins hassling us about our corporate jobs, fixation on living underneath roofs, inability to loosen up, and laughably hokey attachment to whale songs.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:15 PM on May 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think they need more idea about exactly what the human FoxP2's modifications accomplish, most likely they make it interact with lots more stuff during development. You'll likely need to import some whole raft of human genes if you want your talking monkey, but no telling the side effects of all that shit, well your monkey might not live that long.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:25 PM on May 28, 2009


True 'nuff that. The more complicated the organism gets, the more stuff there is to go wrong. That's probably why they're working with mice.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:31 PM on May 28, 2009


The problem with this is that the Vervet monkey study I referenced already indicated that the monkeys weren't using mere operant conditioning. They used specific sounds that related to specific threats, each with a different course of action. They were not using general panic noises, like a dog might. These were true words, and hence, proto-language.

Yes, I agree that relatively complex animal languages exist and have their own interesting aspects. Having different sounds that mean different things is not specific to primates though, prairie dogs for example have similar communication systems. The dancing language used by bees is also very interesting, because it conveys very specific and detailed information about the location and distance of food sources.

If monkeys can do this, the capacity for even greater is almost certainly there among the great apes. We just haven't figured out their own language yet; and they are limited by a throat structure the severely limits the variety of vocalizations they can produce.

Although you're right that we don't completely understand the language of apes, or even humans for that matter, I don't think that it's possible to make that kind of leap. Those sign language studies were attempted based on the same idea (that apes were for the most part physically, rather than mentally limited in their capacity for language) and the end results have not panned out in my opinion.

I'm not saying apes have full language, I'm just saying the ocean that separates man's capacity for language from that of the apes is more like a lake.

I guess it depends on your metaphorical definitions of ocean and lake, but I would argue that it's a fairly wide gap. My analogy would be that ape language is like knowing how to hit a few keys on a piano and human language is like being able to write and perform an entire song in C minor. Human language is extremely complicated and expressive, and my guess is that without having the specific brain structure needed to develop it, we would have absolutely no ability to learn it from scratch. In fact, it actually works in the opposite direction, because children who are taught artificially simplified pidgin languages as their primary language will spontaneously add more advanced features to the language. In my opinion language is less about intelligence and more about having the built-in capacity for it, so teaching an ape sign language or flipping a few genes in mice is not going to do much to match the complex series of evolutional improvements that have resulted in the human brain's ability to form and understand languages.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:36 PM on May 28, 2009


speaking chimps would be the greatest argument for primate rights but you have to engage in animal research to enable it.

eponysterical...
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:47 PM on May 28, 2009


Imagine what it would be like to have the perspective and advice of a trully non-human intelligence on environmental matters...

I was responding to the idea of giving dogs the ability to speak with their current intelligence level. I doubt either of my dogs would have anything wise to say on "environmental matters". I think it would be more like:

"OWT?"
"OWT?"
"GO OWT, PLZ?"
"TREET?"
"WUT DAT?!"
"BUTT ITCH."

Etc.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:47 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Right, they wouldn't make any distinction between themselves and their surroundings. It would be incredibly annoying to live with an animal like that - sort of like the Uncanny Valley, but a thousand times worse because, unlike a robot or animated movie, you couldn't just shut them up.

"Yes, I agree that relatively complex animal languages exist and have their own interesting aspects. Having different sounds that mean different things is not specific to primates though, prairie dogs for example have similar communication systems. The dancing language used by bees is also very interesting, because it conveys very specific and detailed information about the location and distance of food sources."

I think the most interesting distinction to make is whether or not these animals can add new "words" to their vocabulary. If not, then their probably just acting on instinct. Really complex, beautifully developed instincts, but still just hardwiring.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:08 PM on May 28, 2009


True 'nuff that. The more complicated the organism gets, the more stuff there is to go wrong. That's probably why they're working with mice.

I don't think mice are more "complicated" then chimps, it's just that they're much smaller and have a much shorter lifespan and gestation time. Oh and they can't rip your arms off and eat your face if you piss them off. Their brains are less complicated, but the rest of the stuff is probably all the same, except smaller and in different shapes.
posted by delmoi at 3:23 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Regarding human evolution, check out this very approachable blog post on a mutation in MYH16.
posted by exogenous at 3:33 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why assume that the animal who can talk will make sense immediately? It takes us humans years of practice talking to make much sense. Talking is an extremely complex process. It has a similar relationship to vocalizing that writing a forum post has to pressing a key on a computer keyboard.

Breaking down the process of learning to talk at its most fundamental levels (caveat: I'm not a linguist): you have to learn to vocalize (but that's largely instinctual); to modulate your vocalizations; to repeat at will specific vocalizations; to grasp the concept of complex vocalizations, including unit separation between syllables, words, sentences, and monologues; to compare your vocalizations with those of others (this is where hearing impairment of various kinds--and exceptionally high fidelity hearing, which most mammals other than ourselves have--exerts the most influence); to discover meanings associated with vocalizations; to learn cultural practices associated with speech, such as not shouting, not talking about some topics to some people, not interrupting each other, etc; to put meanings together into a language; to learn the rules and precedents and grammar of that language; and to further expand your word vocabulary, idiom vocabulary, and associated cultural knowledge.

So it's not a matter of injecting the mouse with the Speaking Serum and expecting it to sit up and start making arguments for it to be granted civil rights (as an aside, any being capable of making such an argument is, in my view, well above the threshhold of entitlement to civil rights). Over some mouse generations the researcher would breed mice capable of learning to talk, assuming they had the time and mental effort to do so; but mice reach adulthood--which does bad things to an animal's ability to learn, and that includes us--in a couple of months, and live for only a couple of years. You'd need a relatively long-lived animal whose child stage also lasts a relatively long time, to have conversation with that animal make much sense at all.

Maybe a dog, whose child stage lasts about a year, and who lives about twelve years, has enough time to learn basic conversation. What would such a dog be like? There's no reason to assume that his conversation would be limited to "CHASE CAT" any more than a human six-year-old's conversation is "WANT TOY". Like the human six-year-old, the talking dog has been a participant in conversations, and has learned the meaning, including the cultural context, of his native language. The dog would behave like a person, because he would be a person. His intelligence would most likely be relatively low, but comparable to human intelligence, and if he wants to know something, or wants help with something, he can ask. Like a person, he has access to the external knowledge and abilities of other people.

If we made a lot of them (and there are good arguments that we should and we shouldn't, so as with most such things it'll happen because a small group of people make it happen and present it as a fait accompli), they could develop a subculture, and tools suited to their bodies, and useful places in our vastly over-dominant human culture. But they would be at terrible risk from us, far more vulnerable than any human minority ethnicity or subculture ever has been.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:50 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


forkhead box transcription factor

Yeah? Well, same to you, buddy!
posted by dhartung at 4:08 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm speaking seriously when I say that I'm not sure these are experiments we should be doing.

Everyone's always in favour of saving Hitler's brain. But when you put it in the body of a great white shark, ooh, suddenly you've gone too far!

"forkhead box transcription factor"

It's been awhile since I have stared at four consecutive English words for so long, while having no fucking clue what they meant.

I am humbled.


Would it help if I told you that they called it a forkhead gene because if you mutate it in a fly, they literally have a head like a fork?. (Sadly, I can't find a picture.)
posted by penguinliz at 4:18 PM on May 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


penguinliz: I don't think that piece of information is going to foster positive debate on the genome juggling - I mean jeff goldblum? At least there is no picture ...
posted by fistynuts at 4:56 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


exogenous: That's an awesome link.
posted by JHarris at 6:40 PM on May 28, 2009


It's really not a question of "should" we uplift animals, it's more a question of "when" will we get around to it. If you think otherwise, you're woefully short-sighted.

I personally think we're way behind schedule...
posted by nightchrome at 8:19 PM on May 28, 2009


Great stuff. Thanks, Cold Lurkey.
posted by homunculus at 9:37 PM on May 28, 2009


Personally, I have no hubris that animals are any less complex, behaviorally or linguistically than humans... only divergent. Which is why I was entirely sarcastic in the "a single gene is not enough to humanize" bit. To give human speech to an animal would only act as a translator, not a transformation of those animals into intelligent beings. Without getting all peta-ish about it, I think the "civil rights" questions for wild animals are valid with or without comprehensible speech. From an evolutionary perspective, parrots, dolphins and chimps have been around for much longer than we have, and their communication is all that they need. The only thing they are missing is the ability to tell us, in our own words, what exactly they're thinking.
That someone thought that a uniquely human genetic sequence would gift another species with speech is weird, and almost laughable... assuming that they believed that speech was what made us superior, and the genetic basis of speech was crucial for that distinction. Overall, it seems a ridiculously simplistic "shot in the dark" and an arrogant one at that, from both the biological and anthropocentric perspective.
As humans, we do not understand birdsong, at all. Yet the bird sitting on my knee as I type this understands my speech sufficiently to get what he wants when he wants it by verbal communication. This says more about his verbal skills than mine, but then again, as a species, and not an individual, he has about 50 million more years of evolutionary time to work off of.
So to completely editorialize, this study would have been far more valuable if it asked the selfless question of "how does speech work?" rather than demanding that the mouse be spoken to.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 10:09 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Carl Zimmer weighs in.
posted by delmoi at 12:34 AM on May 29, 2009


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