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Seminar: Professor Christopher Petkov

June 4, 2018 @ 08:00 - 17:00

On the co-evolution of cognition and language: Perspectives from human and nonhuman primate neural systems
Thursday 7 June @ 4.30pm5.30pm (Sherrington Library, Sherrington Building, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics)

On Thursday we are hosting a seminar by Professor Christopher Petkov from Newcastle University on Thursday June 7th at 4.30pm in the Sherrington Library, Sherrington Building, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics. We will go to the Royal Oak (42-44 Woodstock Rd) for food and drinks after the talk, feel free to join!

The extent to which the human brain has specialised for speech and language or relies on evolutionarily conserved systems is a prominent question in the cognitive and brain sciences. In this talk, I first overview behavioural results using artificial grammar learning paradigms with sequences of speech sounds in three species of primates: marmosets, macaques and humans. Then functional MRI results in macaques and humans are summarised, identifying evolutionarily conserved frontal regions involved in predictive sequence learning. I also consider results from comparative neural recordings in humans and macaques. The neurophysiological findings identify intriguing neuronal predictive signals in response to speech sounds and the learned sequencing relationships. Moreover, the observed oscillatory dynamics in auditory temporal cortex are found to be strikingly similar across the species. The talk concludes by considering evidence for human and nonhuman primate differences indicative of cognitive enhancement during human evolution. Overall, the findings demonstrate that human and nonhuman primates share an evolutionarily conserved fronto-temporal system involved in structuring the sensory world and predicting future events. Alongside the commonalities, there are indications of cross-species divergences that provide hints on how the human brain differentiated for cognition and language.


June 4, 2018
08:00 - 17:00