Evolution of Language

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Language areas: Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas overlap with areas for imitation (orange).

This assignment requires students to consider data related to the evolution of language in several different models: human dyslexia, the songs of finches, and the cries of non-human primates. Students will apply their understanding of language evaluation techniques as well as neurobiology to answer questions based on several different published studies. They will also practice working with scientific notation and understanding scientific assumptions. This document serves as an answer key; a student handout is provided in an accompanying document.

Evolution of Language

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Comparison of the blood-oxygen-level-dependent neural activity from Chinese dyslexic and non-dyslexic subjects.

This assignment requires students to consider data related to the evolution of language in several different models: human dyslexia, the songs of finches, and the cries of non-human primates. Students will apply their understanding of language evaluation techniques as well as neurobiology to answer questions based on several different published studies. They will also practice working with scientific notation and understanding scientific assumptions. This document serves as a student handout; an answer key is provided in an accompanying document.

Notes on the Marcus and Fisher Article

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This reading assignment serves as a companion to the article by G.F. Marcus and S.E. Fisher, “FOXP2 in focus: What can genes tell us about speech and language?,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (2003): 257-262. It provides related background information and vocabulary in order to improve student understanding and guide students through reading a scientific article.

Neuroscience Seminar 3

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Percentage of gruffs produced by normally-raised and cross-fostered Japanese and rhesus macaques.

This document serves as a teaching guide for the last of three seminars in a unit on neuroscience. This seminar focuses on the evolution of language development. The guide includes an overview, reading list, and step-by-step seminar plan, including suggested discussion questions. Related seminar activities and assignment questions are provided in accompanying files.

Vocal Learning in Elephants

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Imitation of sounds by the African elephants Mlaika and Calimero.

In this class activity, students will review information from a study that investigated vocal imitation in elephants. They will analyze the data to determine the accuracy of the study’s results and interpretations. This document includes student handouts; an instructor guide is provided in an accompanying document.

Vocal Learning in Elephants

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Spectrograms showing an example of a chirping sound emitted by an Asian elephant and Calimero’s imitation.

In this class activity, students will review information from a study that investigated vocal imitation in elephants. They will analyze the data to determine the accuracy of the study’s results and interpretations. This document serves as an instructor guide; student handouts are provided in accompanying documents.

Experiments and Observations with Xenopus laevis

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Oscillogram of Xenopus laevis ticking sounds and extracellular recording of action potentials in the laryngeal nerve of Xenopus laevis

This assignment requires students to consider data related to the sexual differentiation of vocal behavior in the frog. Students will apply their understandings of experimental technique and neurobiology to answer questions based on several different published studies. They will also practice working with scientific notation and understanding scientific assumptions. This document serves as an answer key; a student handout is provided in an accompanying document.

Experiments and Observations with Xenopus laevis

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Changes in laryngeal muscle fiber numbers through post metamorphic development.

This assignment requires students to consider data related to the sexual differentiation of vocal behavior in the frog. Students will apply their understandings of experimental technique and neurobiology to answer questions based on several different published studies. They will also practice working with scientific notation and understanding scientific assumptions. This document serves as a student handout; an answer key is provided in an accompanying document.

Notes on the Kay et al. Article

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This reading assignment serve as a companion to the article J.N. Kay et al., “Trophic effects of androgen: Development and hormonal regulation of neuron number in a sexually dimorphic vocal motor nucleus,” Journal of Neurobiology 40(3) (1999): 375-385. It provides related background information and vocabulary in order to improve student understanding and guide students through reading a scientific article.

Neuroscience Seminar 2

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This document serves as a teaching guide for the second of three seminars in a unit on neuroscience. This seminar focuses on the role of the brain in vocal communication, sexual differentiation of the brain, and sexual differences in vocal behavior. The guide includes an overview, reading list, and step-by-step seminar plan, including suggested discussion questions. Related seminar activities and assignment questions are provided in accompanying files.