Dr. Erich Jarvis: The Neuroscience of Speech, Language & Music | Huberman Lab Podcast #87

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My guest this episode is Dr. Erich Jarvis, PhD—Professor and the Head of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics of Language at Rockefeller University and Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Dr. Jarvis’ research spans the molecular and genetic mechanisms of vocal communication, comparative genomics of speech and language across species and the relationship between speech, language and movement. We discuss the unique ability of humans (and certain animal species) to learn and communicate using complex language, including verbal speech production and the ability to interpret both written and spoken language. We also discuss the connections between language, singing and dance and why song may have evolved before language. Dr. Jarvis also explains some of the underlying biological and genetic components of stutter/speech disorders, non-verbal communication, why it’s easiest to learn a language as a child and how individuals can learn multiple languages at any age. This episode ought to be of interest to everyone interested in the origins of human speech, language, music and culture and how newer technology, such as social media and texting, change our brains.

#HubermanLab #Neuroscience

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00:00:00 Dr. Erich Jarvis & Vocal Communication
00:03:43 Momentous Supplements
00:04:36 InsideTracker, ROKA, LMNT
00:08:01 Speech vs. Language, Is There a Difference?
00:10:55 Animal Communication, Hand Gestures & Language
00:15:25 Vocalization & Innate Language, Evolution of Modern Language
00:21:10 Humans & Songbirds, Critical Periods, Genetics, Speech Disorders
00:27:11 Innate Predisposition to Learn Language, Cultural Hybridization
00:31:34 Genes for Speech & Language
00:35:49 Learning New or Multiple Languages, Critical Periods, Phonemes
00:41:39 AG1 (Athletic Greens)
00:42:52 Semantic vs. Effective Communication, Emotion, Singing
00:47:32 Singing, Link Between Dancing & Vocal Learning
00:52:55 Motor Theory of Vocal Learning, Dance
00:55:03 Music & Dance, Emotional Bonding, Genetic Predispositions
01:04:11 Facial Expressions & Language, Innate Expressions
01:09:35 Reading & Writing
01:15:13 Writing by Hand vs. Typing, Thoughts & Writing
01:20:58 Stutter, Neurogenetics, Overcome Stutter, Conversations
01:26:58 Modern Language Evolution: Texting, Social Media & the Future
01:36:26 Movement: The Link to Cognitive Growth
01:40:21 Comparative Genomics, Earth Biogenome Project, Genome Ark, Conservation
01:48:24 Evolution of Skin & Fur Color
01:51:22 Dr. Erich Jarvis, Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Momentous Supplements, AG1 (Athletic Greens), Instagram, Twitter, Neural Network Newsletter, Huberman Lab Clips

The Huberman Lab Podcast is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast or materials linked from this podcast is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.

Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac –


Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.

Keywords: andrew huberman,huberman lab podcast,huberman podcast,dr. andrew huberman,neuroscience,huberman lab,andrew huberman podcast,the huberman lab podcast,science podcast,Erich Jarvis,science of speech,science of language,science of music,science of movement,Rockefeller University professor

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  1. How is that possible that i continue studying and retining information if there is only certain capacity in my brain? Is he speaking about a capacityto learn at a time (can't retain 100 wordw per day ie? And not general capacity? This woild mqke sense )

  2. Andrew is a brilliant guy, and I guarantee you that he’s not saying everything cuz people won’t be able to digest.

  3. The Andrew Huberman Podcast will go down in history as something that has fundamentally changed minds and improved lives. Bravo!

  4. This is in reality my first time leaving a comment.

    I do have to say I've loved this topic. I started watching Dr. Huberman's podcasts due to my profound interest in acquiring more insightful data regarding nueroplasticity. Due to I am a linguist and I've studied English as a foreign language. I am very aware of Vigostky's, Piaget's, Krashen's and all EFL processess, approches, methods, strategies and tecniques. However, neuroplasticity breaks up the conventional and tradictional conviction and misconception that L2 cannot be feasible after puberty, the critical period or adolescence. So that was the premise and foundation that encouraged me to engage into Dr. Huberman's lab podcasts. Now I've found such a marvelous, nourishing, insightful, remarkable videos that entail more regarding my field.

    I am certainly expanding my knowledgeable horizons with such impressive remarks. This has opened up such criteria I had regarding Linguistics' boundaries over animal kind and it has certainly and acurrately raised awareness upon such interesting subjects.

    I am very inclined to the in-depth philosophical avenues of knowledge I can generate and attain accurately by other means. Nonetheless, my devotion is increasing more regarding nueroscience. As to why, nuerology is corretated with Linguistics in Nuero-linguistics.

    I liked pretty much the Paralanguage Dr. Javis first introduced. I second him within the paralinguistcs involved in animal kind.

    In a nutshell, it is indisputable, irrebuttable and ineffable how delighted I am with this podcast. Thanks to both!

  5. I gotta admit, initially I thought this one might not be in my wheel house of interests. Dr Huberman and this guest though did not disappoint, and took me a on a curving learning journey that felt like a scientific rollercoaster ride! Love some of the tangential side topics and the deep sense of shared exploration that these two luminaries clearly have for each other, and the work they do! Thanks Dr. Huberman, I remain a fan of your work.

  6. Even what they just explained particularly with the vocal cords actually vibrating when you read something. That means the technology to be able to improve your thoughts already exist in this being exacted. Mind reading is real y'all heard it here first though

  7. I am a dancer, not a scientist, but it seems to me that the elimination of cursive writing from the elementary school curriculum must having an effect on a child's ability to learn and understand how to use circular pathways both functionally and expressively to interact with his/her environment, both in movement and in speech. Thank you for your podcast. It has changed my behavior.

  8. I love these podcasts!
    It would be cool to see a podcast on Wenckebach phenomenon and other types of AV block.

    Thanks for all your work and free info Andrew 🙏🏻

  9. I’m a Mom to 10 year old identical twin girls, who are severely autistic and non-verbal. We implement movement into their learning at home and school.

    Verbal and non-verbal communication has been a huge focus in our family, and helping my daughters learn how to express their emotions, thoughts and needs is something I’ve devoted a huge amount of my energy into. Majority of communication is leading or gesturing. We have made slow progress with using Touch Chat on an iPad.

    My one daughter has an arachnoid cyst, the other does not. I’ve been very curious to know if that cyst may have any affect on her vision. At times her pupils will be unevenly dilated. I’ve spoken to the neurosurgeon and ophthalmologist at the Alberta Childrens Hospital, but unfortunately got no answers.

  10. So what is the theory behind say, Cats when they learn and fairly well can say their owners name? Like when you're closed in a bedroom and the cat wants in and sounds out your 2 syllable name so that you'll let her in? Cats can meow or growl otherwise but what's the name for this type of adaptation?

  11. Do we speak words we hear when listening? I sometimes see people who seem to subtly mouth words as they are listening.

  12. I have huge respect for what younare doing and you are my go to podcast when I'm doing my stepps ❤️ Because you said that if we have a ideea for a future podcast, here is one: pregnat women, the development of the child in all those 9 months (because you talked about the alchool consumtion in that period). I think is an interesting subject. What do you think?

  13. Great episode , the part about work done by Eddie Chan regarding transferring of electrical signals from neutrons into speech was amazing and scary at the same time. It sounds a lot like telepathy to me! Sure he would be an interesting guest .

    This is what Douglas Adams said about the Belcebron people of Kakrafoon and telepathy:-

    “The Belcebron people used to cause great resentment and insecurity amongst neighboring races by being one of the most enlightened, accomplished, and above all quiet civilizations in the Galaxy.

    As a punishment for this behavior, which was held to be offensively self righteous and provocative, a Galactic Tribunal inflicted on them that most cruel of all social diseases, telepathy. Consequently, in order to prevent themselves broadcasting every slightest thought that crossed their minds to anyone within a five mile radius, they now have to talk very loudly and continuously about the weather, their little aches and pains, the match this afternoon and what a noisy place Kakrafoon had suddenly become. “

  14. 🙏. I have this problem of Writing down my thought. I already finished the thought before finishing my writing. It is not unique to me at all.

  15. What is a pidgin language? This is a great question for a linguist! Pidgin is actually a classification and not a specific type of language. There are many examples from around the world.
    Additionally, a lot of what is known (historically) about speech & language comes from observations about disordered speech & language. Frank Guenther's work on a neuro-computational model for speech production explores the brain "circuits" involved to answer where breakdowns occur for disorders such as stuttering.
    Loved learning about the hummingbirds!!! Very interesting to hear from a vocalization researcher's pov.

  16. Stutter comes out of fear others will judge your speech or won't get it correctly. I can say for certain that "speaking for yourself" (that is – without attempts to boost your voice's volume so listeners receive it as well as not being constantly conscious about the quality of your delivery) reduces stutter considerably.
    It's similar to a free kick in soccer. You concentrate on the ball's place you're about to kick, not on a goalkeeper.
    Sorry for possible grammar errors. English is my third language.

  17. Hey Andrew – both an observation for you personally and also maybe someone will study this one day. I was in the Peace Corps in eastern Europe and something anecdotally I noticed about all these adults ranging from 22 to 65 learning a language as an adult. ( some , two new languages )

    Proficiency seemed to depend greatly on how necessary it was for every day life. What I mean is that the people in the cities where it was likely you might run into someone who spoke English often had the worst language retention. The ones who lived in rural areas where there may not be a single person who speaks English for 50+ miles often had the greatest mastery.

    Also, mysteriously there was an inflection point that came with understanding reflexively vs non. What I mean is that you can learn the words of a language but if you have to focus on whats being said, you often miss things and you tire out very easily to the point where you just give up. Everyone I worked with reported this before and after point where one day their brain didn't have to translate "Actively" – meaning the brain was translating the words for you.

    Point being personally, I managed to learn Romanian and some Russian in 8 weeks of intense training ( 6 days a week, living with a host family ) – so if you want to learn Spanish for real, you gotta basically remove yourself entirely from English and live in that language 🙂 Good Luck

  18. Interesting that when Dr.Jarvis is momentarily missing a word he snaps his fingers and Dr.Huberman responds, finishing the thought.

  19. About the same circuits in our brains for language processing: I'm Polish native and I was exposed to English since my childhood, and I can't read a text and listen to something in a different language simultaneously, but I am writing this comment in English while listening to a podcast in Polish at the same time.

  20. I'd love to ask one more question to this topic: Is the language we speak influence how we think? Some concepts does not exists in certain languages while they do in other. Even a whole movie was made around this phenomena ("Arrival" 2016), but I'd love to hear about the science behind that.

  21. Is it possible- in regards to the vocal muscles firing at a level below our perception – that this is what happens during meditation when people repeat mantras or ponder zen koans? Could this be reverberating somehow in a way that soothes the parasympathetic nervous system? Just throwing this out there.

  22. I would be curious about how the Von Economo neurons(responsible for our interoceptive ability), mentioned in the stretch episode, potentially works with this emotional and viseral communication during music-assisted dance. Specifically how that can be used in therapy when working with repressed emotion or with the general overwhelm and micro ptsd accumulated from living in this technologically hyper stimulating and ideological incoherent world right now! Any thoughts? 🌌🕺🎶

  23. Humans need to understand that other animals, and we are animals, are not objects for our use. They are conscious as we are and deserve humane treatment on our part.

  24. It gets interesting when you think of devices that can read the speech pathway fluctuations in your brain and body, then turn those signatures into matching text. I believe Google gave a presentation on this upcoming technology…

    But likewise, if one develops the tech to read correlating internal firing patterns, then one could also wonder if you could send and promote firing of those speech patterns maps; sending electrical firing patterns to be most likely spoken by a person.

    Presuming neural energy likes to flow down the path of least resistance, if an outside source assisted in firing related electrical signatures to words at an individual's speech pathways: there would be a good chance they would follow that path and speak those words. Possibly even having those words/thoughts in their internal dialogue. In an emotionally high state where self-awareness is absent, a person may blurt out what's on the top of their mind etc. You could use these open gate moments to influence others; a positive example is a coach getting their team amped up and highly emotional, and inserting short goal phrases for the athletes to echo and align more easily to, collective convergence.

    Thoughts become words, words to actions.

    Another perspective is that when we speak, read, hear others speak we resonate a specific electrical firing patterns in our brain (EEG) and subtle micro flexions along the speech pathway. So this could be seen from a Yogic point of view, and how different organs and brain regions oscillate and send out waves that go past our conscious mind. This pcast has talked about the amygdala for example and the waves it interacts with others, before we become aware of its alertness. So our bodies, organs, and hormones effect others in an energy/electrical way. If speech pathways first internally fire at a unnoticeable way, say during thought, maybe those same electric patterns are matched by those in our close proximity. Similar to how when they spoke on others finishing our sentences during a conversation, because there's a resonation between the individual's speech pathways, becoming matched. Maybe at a less amplified level, the unnoticeable firing patterns internally also cause a resonation with those in our environment. Therefore at times, our thoughts may not always be ours, and we can influence others. Maybe explaining group think etc. By paying attention to your internal voice it could at times represent your current external field.

    Then if vibrations from others voices and sounds, electrically fire correlating speech pathways neurons. Then all electricity/energy fields would influence correlating/matching firing templates. Say a walk in nature would fire you one way, and allow an influence towards similar thought & word choice. Maybe even the forest would speak through you haha!

    Thanks for the great Podcast! Enriching lives!!

  25. Andrew is good scientist but his knowledge is reserved for normies.

    I used to dig his podcast but as someone who has ability to read people and situations I have to say that Dr.Huberman is turning into Rhonda Patrick and for someone who trains,eats healthy and has above average IQ I will be unsubscribing from his channel.

    Hey don't forget to see that sunlight in the morning if you want to turn super Saiyan 🤣

  26. I heard you say once on a podcast that you take a supplement that ever since you started taking it you haven't experienced muscle soreness. I though it was on Jocko's podcast that I just relistened to but I didn't hear you mention it. Thank you for all that you do, it's changed the way I live my life.

  27. I've watched every single episode from the very beginning, and I don't think I've ever seen Andrew smile and enjoy a podcast as much… this epoisode sung to many hearts, including mine 🙂

  28. Wow, What a lovely Informative discussion understanding about the synchronicity of music and language and how The vehicle speech resonates with brain development. I love the findings of our community of in avian' species to Movement and speech. The tidbit about wing movement and sound In one of my favorite birds in particular the emerald hummingbird Whoto movement and sound delightful too learn. The podcast has really help me understand appreciate the the (A) in the acronym STEAM Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics. So as a former of pre-K kindergarten educator I can truly appreciate my students pots and pan band rocking to the children's book Musical title A Soup Opera written by Jim Gill (Author), David Moose (Illustrator) As they develop their speech language movement and music.

  29. Great podcast. I grew up with a Mandarin-speaking Chinese mom who spoke no English upon arriving in the US and a white American father who spoke fluent English and Mandarin. I'm so grateful I learned early but also know several western friends that learned in adulthood and am in more awe of them. But funny, my language as a baby was very confusing to others as I spoke a hybrid of Mandarin and English words, as well as my own "baby language"….such as "Umm" for "eat".

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