© 2017

A Brain for Speech

A View from Evolutionary Neuroanatomy


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxiv
  2. Francisco Aboitiz
    Pages 1-38
  3. A Special Brain

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 39-39
    2. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 41-83
    3. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 85-129
    4. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 131-172
    5. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 173-209
    6. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 211-246
  4. Before Speech

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 247-247
    2. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 249-285
    3. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 287-327
    4. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 329-374
    5. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 375-423
    6. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 425-466
    7. Francisco Aboitiz
      Pages 467-469
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 471-505

About this book


This book discusses evolution of the human brain, the origin of speech and language. It covers past and present perspectives on the contentious issue of the acquisition of the language capacity. Divided into two parts, this insightful work covers several characteristics of the human brain including the language-specific network, the size of the human brain, its lateralization of functions and interhemispheric integration, in particular the phonological loop. Aboitiz argues that it is the phonological loop that allowed us to increase our vocal memory capacity and to generate a shared semantic space that gave rise to modern language. The second part examines the neuroanatomy of the monkey brain, vocal learning birds like parrots, emergent evidence of vocal learning capacities in mammals, mirror neurons, and the ecological and social context in which speech evolved in our early ancestors. This book's interdisciplinary topic will appeal to scholars of psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, biology and history.


Neuropychology Cognitive Psychology Linguistics Evolution neuroanatomy interhemispheric integration Paul Broca Speech Anatomy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Medical School, and Interdisciplinary Center for NeurosciencePontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile

About the authors

Francisco Aboitiz is Professor of the Psychiatry Department at the Medical School, and Director of the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Center at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He has published more than 100 scientific papers on evolution, neuroscience and neuropsychiatry.

Bibliographic information

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“This book presents an ambitious combination of evolution and neuroscience applied to language development. … A curated bibliography and subject/author indexes round out the scholarly apparatus; overall, a compelling exploration that merges psychology, neurology, linguistics, and evolutionary biology. … Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, and professionals.” (J. A. Mather, Choice, Vol. 56 (1), September, 2018)

“This book is dense in up-to-date factual information. … Aboitiz indicates that the book is intended primarily for undergraduates and graduate students, the detailed content would be intimidating to most students. It is more appropriate for use as a reference source by researchers and other specialists interested in language.” (James W. Kalat, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 62 (49), December, 2017)