The brain regions that enable it are much more complex too. From ScienceDaily:
In recent years neuroanatomists discovered that Broca’s and Wernicke’s regions actually contain multiple neuroanatomical areas. Also, newly discovered language areas extend beyond the classical areas, even into the parietal lobe, with more connections between these areas than previously thought. Moreover, the traditional areas are involved in language comprehension as well as production. Scientist also learned that other regions of the brain are more important for language than once thought, including the right hemisphere and the cerebellum. Interestingly, language areas also turn out to be somewhat variable. For instance, in people who are born blind, language can spread to the occipital lobe (or visual brain).
Our brains process language with astonishing speed and ‘immediacy’, in a dynamic network of interacting brain areas. All the relevant information becomes available immediately, as we start combining the meanings of individual words, unifying the different sources of information. To speed up this process, our brain actively predicts what is coming next (for instance, we might expect ‘newspaper’ to follow ‘the editor of the …’).
As most utterances are part of a conversation, some information is usually already shared between the speaker and the listener. Speakers make sure that they mark ‘new information’, using the order of the words or pitch to focus the listener’s attention (after hearing that readers of the newspaper did not like the article, one could say ‘the EDITOR of the newspaper loved the article’). Only when relevant ‘new’ information is unexpected or ungrammatical, people’s brains are shown to react. Listeners likely process ‘old’ information in a ‘good-enough’ manner, ignoring some of the details, explains Hagoort, which is why they do not seem to notice unexpected ‘old’ information.
To make matters even more complex, language is often indirect. To know what a speaker really means, listeners need to infer a speaker’s intention. For instance, ‘It is hot here’ could well be intended as a request to open the window, rather than a statement about the temperature. Neuroimaging studies show that such ‘pragmatic’ inferences depend on brain areas that are involved in ‘Theory of Mind’, or thinking about other people’s beliefs, emotions and desires.
Language is a “complex biocultural hybrid,” concludes Hagoort.Paper. (paywall) – Peter Hagoort. The neurobiology of language beyond single-word processing. Science, 2019 DOI: 10.1126/science.aax0289 More.
That’s only the beginning. Glad someone understands.
See also: The real reason why only human beings speak Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly (Michael Egnor)
Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
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