Hopkins Lab Awarded $1M to Study Evolution of Language
ATLANTA – Dr. William Hopkins, professor of neuroscience at Georgia State University, and his colleagues have been awarded a three-year, $1 million grant from the international Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) to explore the neurobiological basis for the evolution of language and speech in different primate species.
Hopkins will be working with Dr. Michael Petrides from the Montreal Neurological Institute in Montreal and Dr. Emmanual Procyk of the Laboratory of Executive Functions in Lyon, France on the project. He will be using two noninvasive in vivo imaging technologies in chimpanzees – diffusion tenor imaging and resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging – to quantify anatomical and functional connectivity in cortical networks thought to be critical to the development and evolution of language and speech.
The role that experiential factors have on variation in functional and anatomical connectivity in the brain also will be investigated. Data from the chimpanzees will be compared with results from humans and macaques to provide an evolutionary framework for understanding the neural foundation of language development and evolution.
“The research will provide invaluable data on cortical connectivity that presumably reflects inherent differences in oro-facial motor control in primates,” said Hopkins, who is also a researcher at Georgia State’s Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. “Additionally, by combining the behavioral data with the neurological data, it will provide important information on plasticity in the language networks of the brain and the extent to which these systems can be modified through experiential factors, even in adulthood.”
Hopkins and his colleagues were one of 40 research teams from more than 700 applicants that received the award. The HFSP funds projects that are interdisciplinary in focus and aim to address basic theoretical questions in the sciences.
For more information on Dr. Hopkins and the research being conducted in his laboratory, visit http://neuroscience.gsu.edu/13890.html.
For more information on the Human Frontiers Science Program visit: http://www.hfsp.org.