Language unbound: genomic conflict and psychosis in the origin of modern humans

Bernard J Crespi

in Sociobiology of Communication

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199216840
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191712043 | DOI:
 Language unbound: genomic conflict and psychosis in the origin of modern humans

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Human social communication is impaired in the two primary disorders of the ‘social brain’, autism, and schizophrenia. This chapter describes a new hypothesis for the role of language in the evolution and development of autism and schizophrenia: that the cores of these two conditions are disordered social communication, with dysregulated social-linguistic development mediated in part by extremes of bias in maternal vs paternal imprinted gene expression, resulting in extreme mentalistic vs extreme mechanistic cognition. It evaluates this hypothesis via tests of the molecular evolution of genes underlying schizophrenia and language, analyses of how the human social brain has evolved, and evaluation of the roles of genomic conflicts in human development, enculturation, and communication via study of the genetic and epigenetic underpinnings of social-brain disorders. These convergent lines of evidence from evolutionary theory and neurogenomics support the hypothesis that psychosis represents the ‘illness that made us human’.

Keywords: genomic conflict; autism; psychosis; schizophrenia; language; human evolution; genomic imprinting; neurodevelopment; sociality

Chapter.  14001 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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