Now, genetic evidence may show how our language brain circuitry came about over the last half million years of human evolution. In a study published in Nature, Neuroscientists Genevieve Konopka and Daniel Geschwind at the University of California, Los Angeles have demonstrated that the human version of the FOXP2 gene –- one that mutated around the time humans developed the ability to talk –- regulates more than 100 other genes differently than the chimpanzee version of the gene. Other genes may also be involved, but there’s a good chance that this mutation helped us humans develop speech and language.
According to another recent study led by Chet Sherwood, a neuroscientist at George Washington University in Washington DC, a brain region critical to speech and language in humans developed substantially after humans split from chimpanzees. French physician Pierre Paul Broca identified this region of the brain studying brain-damaged patients incapable of uttering more than a few words. “Broca's area” typically occupies a much larger portion of the left half of the human brain than the right. Because right-handed humans also tend to process language in their left halves (this is reversed for lefties), some researchers think that lop-sidedness in Broca's area may help explain why humans –- and not chimpanzees –- developed language. Broca's area ballooned disproportionately during our species' evolution. Human brains are 3.6 times larger than those of chimpanzees, on average. And Broca’s area is more than 6 times larger in humans than chimpanzees according Natalie Schenker, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, who worked with Sherwood on the research
Marc Hauser, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, cautions that it’s too early to draw too many conclusions regarding the genetic basis of the evolution of language circuitry in humans. "I would be extremely skeptical about drawing inferences," says Hauser.
Damn, you're no fun.