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 Language and intelligence - a positive feedback loop?

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Language and intelligence - a positive feedback loop?   Sun 30 Aug 2015, 18:13

While I can experience raw emotion and react accordingly at the basic level of fight or flee … and viscerally can experience grief, sorrow, worry, optimism, joy, and love, without needing to put my emotions into words … I find I cannot do any deep thinking, requiring logical decision-making or reasoned evaluation of information, without mentally using language. Basically I think in English using English words … although interestingly if the problem requires using French language to resolve, I then find I’m automatically thinking in French. But whether in English of French or whatever, I’m always thinking in precise words and expressions, and usually (or so I believe) grammatically correct sentences too. Basically I think in coherent sentences in a recognised language exactly as though I were having a discussion with myself in my head.

So …

When considering our early human ancestors: did language require a level of “intelligence”, before it was possible, or were language and intelligence actually more of a positive feedback loop, with language (which is ostensibly for communication with others) nevertheless enabling more complex internal thoughts and ideas, such as logical reasoning, within the  individual?  And with this way of thinking (internal communication if you like) one would already have ones ideas in a form that was ready (rehearsed?)  for communication with the rest of ones group, no?
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PostSubject: Re: Language and intelligence - a positive feedback loop?   Sun 30 Aug 2015, 19:53

The intelligence must have come first; that and the social relationships that made speech so advantageous, after all a mutation that was too advanced would be no advantage and would disappear. And not only a feed back loop, I would think, but strong selective pressure of every kind would lead to rapid (in evolutionary terms) refinements.

This article makes a plausible case for language co-evolving with tool making about 1.75 m. years BP, both activating the same brain areas using  similar neural networks It does make sense since, as you observed, it's near impossible to make any kind of complex analysis or plan without being able to manipulate ideas with the symbolic function of words to organise thoughts.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0072693

However, was it necessary for the vocal apparatus to have evolved to near its current state for speech to develop? This review of a paper suggests not.  http://www.babelsdawn.com/babels_dawn/2010/10/the-evolution-of-the-vocal-tract.html

It's pretty well mainstream now that Neanderthals could speak and there have been some recreations but unfortunately the larynx does not survive fossilisation well in the earlier hominims so it's all still conjecture.
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