Effects of Imprinted Genes on the Development of Communicative Behavior: A Hypothesis [Book Review]

Biological Theory 7 (3):247-255 (2013)
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Abstract

The kinship theory of genomic imprinting predicts that imprinted genes affect parent–child and child–child interactions. During prenatal and neonatal stages, patrigenes promote selfish and matrigenes altruistic behavior. Models predict that this imprinted gene expression pattern is reversed starting with the juvenile stage. This article explores possible effects of imprinted genes on nonverbal and simple and complex linguistic behaviors before and after the reversal. A hypothesis is discussed that is based on the observation language evolved as a new form of communicative behavior. Inclusive fitness theory is used for explaining how and why new forms of communicative behaviors evolved as an extension of behaviors and gestures displayed by our predecessors. The hypothesis is elaborated through discussing a scenario of early language evolution. This scenario is used for explaining early stages in child development and for discussing possible effects of patrigenes and matrigenes on the development of children’s communicative behaviors

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