Forkhead box protein P2 is a protein expressed by the FOXP2 gene, located on human chromosome 7. First discovered by scientists at Oxford University in 2001, damage to the FOXP2 gene is linked to severe speech and language impairment. Research in the past decade has only begun to unravel the complex role of FOXP2 in human language acquisition. Ed Yong provides an accessible discussion of parts of this research.
Last week, a study in The Journal of Neuroscience reported that the expression of the FOXP2 protein, in humans, differs between the sexes. In an area of the left frontal cortex associated with language use, girls have about 30% more of this protein than boys. The researchers write, “Our results implicate FOXP2 as a component of the neurobiological basis of sex differences in vocal communication in mammals.” Here is a brief summary of the study. The sample size was small, but the direction the study points does not surprise me.