Marcus C. Coleman, Ruslan Ardashev
In this research collaboration, we explore evolutionary and physiological factors that contribute to ape communicative success. To do so, we first establish that apes indeed demonstrate a capacity for a rudimentary grasp of language in studies. We examine implications of picture-on-keyboard, or lexigram, based studies, in addition to self-generated communication studies in assessing aforementioned progress. Afterwards, to explore reasons for linguistic achievement, we study factors that led to success through an anatomical comparison of the F5 region in primates and Broca’s area in humans, giving insights into neuron operation, through an examination of neuron operation and its link to social behaviors, and an in-detail analysis of mirror neurons. In the discussion of mirror neurons, we note how mirror neurons are studied, monitored, and mapped through brain magnetic field mapping and electric impulse recording techniques, called magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG), respectively. Data is mathematically analyzed in accordance with Maxwell’s equations — tools used in the studies operate based on the principle that electric currents generate oriented magnetic fields. Electric impulses generated by certain neurons create such magnetic fields, and can be recorded via MEG and EEG, allowing an analysis of which neurons are and are not activated during communicative interaction. The results from MEG and EEG tests can serve as a comparison between action and observation, in accordance with the mirror neuron theory. Our studies overall involved prominent examples of language-trained apes, including Kanzi the bonobo (Pan paniscus), rhesus monkeys (Macaca nemestrina, Macaca fascicularis, Macaca mulatta), and chimpanzees (Pan troglodyte).