The frame/content theory of evolution of speech production

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (4):499-511 (1998)
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Abstract

The species-specific organizational property of speech is a continual mouth open-close alternation, the two phases of which are subject to continual articulatory modulation. The cycle constitutes the syllable, and the open and closed phases are segments framescontent displays that are prominent in many nonhuman primates. The new role of Broca's area and its surround in human vocal communication may have derived from its evolutionary history as the main cortical center for the control of ingestive processes. The frame and content components of speech may have subsequently evolved separate realizations within two general purpose primate motor control systems: (1) a motivation-related medial system, including anterior cingulate cortex and the supplementary motor area, for self-generated behavior, formerly responsible for ancestral vocalization control and now also responsible for frames, and (2) a lateral system, including Broca's area and surround, and Wernicke's area, specialized for response to external input (and therefore the emergent vocal learning capacity) and more responsible for content

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