Humans possess a communication system based on spoken and written language. Other animals can learn vocalization by imitation, but this is not equivalent to human language. Many genes were described to be implicated in language impairment (LI) and developmental dyslexia (DD), but their evolutionary history has not been thoroughly analyzed. Herein we analyzed the evolution of ten genes involved in DD and LI. Results show that the evolutionary history of LI genes for mammals and aves was comparable in vocal-learner species and non-learners. For the human lineage, several sites showing evidence of positive selection were identified in KIAA0319 and were already present in Neanderthals and Denisovans, suggesting that any phenotypic change they entailed was shared with archaic hominins. Conversely, in FOXP2, ROBO1, ROBO2, and CNTNAP2 non-coding changes rose to high frequency after the separation from archaic hominins. These variants are promising candidates for association studies in LI and DD.
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