Cornell professor Andrew Bass discovered evidence for the link between talking and gesturing in midshipman fish, a genus of fish that communicates with grunts and hums. The brain networks that guide the fish's vocalizations are in the same area of the hindbrain as the networks that instruct the pectoral fins to move. This same hindbrain compartment is found in other vocalizing vertebrates, including humans, who also have pectoral limbs (we call them arms.) It's likely that this brain area originated in a fish ancestor that vertebrates share.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Humans may have inherited our link between gesturing and vocalizing from fish. 00:27

  2. Blind children have been observed gesturing while they speak. 01:26

  3. One study found that children who learned math from someone gesturing performed better on tests than those who didn't. 02:05

Written by Curiosity Staff August 17, 2015

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