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Joseph Devlin

The central question my research aims to answer is: Why is human language a unique ability in the animal kingdom? Although other animals certainly communicate, sometimes in fairly sophisticated ways, no other species uses such a rich, complex system, capable of conveying essentially infinite amounts of information. My research focuses specifically on the brain-basis of this difference. Interestingly, there is no single area of the human brain dedicated to language that differentiates us from other primates such as chimps. Instead, the differences may be related to how information is integrated across brain regions. My work aims to: i) determine how such information is represented and processed in human brains, ii) to identify how similar or different this processing is across species, and iii) to investigate potential differences in the wiring patterns in human brains that enable novel interactions which potentially give rise to human language.



Meet the researcher

Dr. Joseph Devlin’s research asks the question: What’s unique about the human brain that allows us to use language when other species cannot? Obviously many other species communicate — often in sophisticated ways — but even so full-blown language appears to be specific to humans. Devlin’s work explores the hypothesis that our unique neurobiological inheritance are subtle changes in connectivity patterns within our brain relative to other primates that link up older cognitive abilities in a new way and thereby enable the emergent of language.

Contact details

Room 232
26 Bedford Way
London, WC1H 0AP

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0207 679 5414