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Linguistic perception

Neural processing of a whistled language

Nature volume 433, pages 3132 (06 January 2005) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Silbo Gomero is a whistled language that is a rare and endangered surrogate of Spanish, used by shepherds on the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands for communication over long distances on difficult terrain. Here we show that areas of the brain normally associated with spoken-language function are also activated in proficient whistlers, but not in controls, when they are listening to Silbo Gomero. Our findings demonstrate that the language-processing regions of the human brain can adapt to a surprisingly wide range of signalling forms.

A rare surrogate of Spanish highlights the adaptability of the brain's language regions.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. * Departamento de Psicología Cognitiva, Universidad de La Laguna, La Laguna, Tenerife, 38205, Spain

    • Manuel Carreiras
    •  & Francisco Rivero
  2. † IMETISA, Hospital Universitario de Canarias, La Laguna, Tenerife, 28320, Spain

    • Jorge Lopez
  3. ‡ Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195–1525, USA

    • David Corina

Authors

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Manuel Carreiras.

Supplementary information

Word documents

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Methods

    Description of the participants, stimuli, the fMRI procedure and data analyses. It also includes a spectrogram of two whistled words.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Table S1

    Details of activations.

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Figure S1

    fitted and adjusted times series of the ROI (Region of Interest) for one silbador and one non-whistler

About this article

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/433031a

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