Recent publications

All members of our group have been quite active since the last update, which is reflected in several recent publications. Here is a roundup, just in time for the holidays!

Thomas O’Rourke has two papers out in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, officially published in 2020 but already available.

The first one, with Ruth de Diego Balaguer, is on the neural basis of proper-name encoding and retrieval:

O’Rourke, T., & de Balaguer, R. D. (2020). Names and their meanings: a dual-process account of proper-name encoding and retrievalNeuroscience & biobehavioral reviews, 108, 308-321. doi: 

The second one, with Cedric Boeckx, is on glutamate receptors in domestication and modern human evolution:

O’Rourke, T., & Boeckx, C. (2020). Glutamate receptors in domestication and modern human evolutionNeuroscience & biobehavioral reviews, 108, 341-357. doi: 

Pedro Tiago Martins has a short paper out in Plos Biology, with Cedric Boeckx, on how from the formal simplicity of Merge one cannot infer the number of evolutionary steps that led to it:

Martins, P. T., & Boeckx, C. (2019). Language evolution and complexity considerations: the no half-merge fallacyPlos biology, 17(11), e3000389. doi: 

(A reply by Berwick and Chomsky was published simultaneously)

Our group has an on-going collaboration with Giuseppe Testa‘s group, which has borne its first fruit very recently, in the form of a paper where we identified a significant overlap between genomic locations controlled by BAZ1B and paleogenomics data, which unveiled BAZ1B as a master regulator that shapes the modern human face, and served as a first empirical probe of the human self-domestication hypothesis:

Zanella, M., Vitriolo, A., Andirko, A., Martins, P. T., Sturm, S., O’Rourke, T., Laugsch, M., Malerba, N., Skaros, A., Trattaro, S., Germain, P., Mihailovic, M., Merla, G., Rada-Iglesias, A., Boeckx, C., & Testa, G. (2019). Dosage analysis of the 7q11.23 williams region identifies baz1b as a major human gene patterning the modern human face and underlying self-domesticationScience advances, 5(12).  doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaw7908 

This paper has received extensive media coverage from all over the world. If you are interested, perhaps the easiest way to access the different stories and news pieces is visiting the paper’s Altmetric page.

Some of our recent work is also available in the form of preprints. Hopefully, in the next update we’ll give our readers links to published versions of all of these. 🙂

Alejandro Andirkó has a paper with Cedric Boeckx on derived Homo sapiens cis-eQTL:

Andirko, A., & Boeckx, C. (2019). Derived homo sapiens cis-eQTL regulation: implications for brain evolutionbioRxiv.  doi:10.1101/771816 

Juan Moriano has a paper with Cedric Boeckx where they focus on early stages of brain development as a good target to investigate regulatory regions in the context of modern human evolution:

Moriano, J., & Boeckx, C. (2019). Modern human-specific changes in regulatory regions implicated in cortical developmentbioRxiv.  doi: 

Cedric Boeckx has a paper with Bart de Boer, Bill Thompson and Andrea Ravignani on language evolution with an extremely self-explanatory title:

de Boer, B., Thompson, B., Ravignani, A., & Boeckx, C. (2019). Evolutionary dynamics do not motivate a single-mutant theory of human languagebioRxiv.  doi:10.1101/517029 

Stay tuned for the next update.

Happy Holidays!