Francesco Ferretti, Ines Adornetti

Why We Need a Narrative Brain to Account for the Origin of Language

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Animal Communication, Language Origins, Mental Time Travel, Narrative, Persuasive Communicative, Theory of Mind.

In this article, we address the topic of language origins analyzing two interrelated questions: the first one concerns the functional role of language; the second regards the structural conditions on which language was built. As for the first question, we challenge the classic code model of communication according to which language’s main purpose is information transfer. We contrast this model with the view that language, and more in general communication, evolved to persuade others, i.e. to make the recipient act in a certain way, and propose that narrative represents the best tool humans developed to influence others. As for the second question, we investigate the structural conditions that underlie narrative and allowed our ancestors to develop a persuasive form of communication based on stories. In our view, these structures are two neurocognitive systems – mental time travel and theory of mind – constituting the narrative brain at the origin of language.

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