Tuesday, March 5, 2013
FOXP2 Gene and Language
Studies identifying the association of the gene associated with language in humans, FOXP2, have also discovered that this gene plays a part in language expression in other species. Four-day old male rats were found to have more FOXP2 in their brains than female rats. No surprise, the males made more noise than females. However, when researchers increased the levels of the protein in the female pups and decreased it in the male pups, this sex diference was reversed. Other studies have shown that this "language protein" plays an important role in vocal communication in birds. And in a study of this brain protein in a small group of children, sex differences in the level of FOXP2 were discovered. What does this mean? For one thing, it raises the possibility that sex differences in brain and behavior are established earlier than previously thought and are more pervasive. My brain's opinion? Differences are here to stay. You can recognize them, learn to work with them, enjoy the differences, and have fun with them--or not.