Behavioral and Brain Sciences



Open Peer Commentary
MacNeilage: Evolution of speech

Out of the mouths of babes . . . and beaks of birds? A broader interpretation of the frame/content theory for the evolution of speech production


Irene M. Pepperberg a1
a1 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Department of Psychology, Program in Neurosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721 impepper@u.arizona.edu

Abstract

Much of the material MacNeilage cites to support his frame/content theory for the evolution of speech production in humans is not unique to mammals. Parallels can be drawn for comparable evolution of vocal flexibility (specifically the reproduction of human speech) in birds. I describe several such parallels and conclude that MacNeilage's hypotheses may have broader application than he envisioned.