Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Language evolution: Body of evidence?

Chen Yu a1 and Dana H. Ballard a2
a1 Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science Program, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405 [email protected]
a2 Department of Computer Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627 [email protected]


Our computational studies of infant language learning estimate the inherent difficulty of Arbib's proposal. We show that body language provides a strikingly helpful scaffold for learning language that may be necessary but not sufficient, given the absence of sophisticated language in other species. The extraordinary language abilities of Homo sapiens must have evolved from other pressures, such as sexual selection.