From imitation to conversation: The first dialogues with human neonates

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61 Citations (Scopus)


The functional maturity of the newborn infant's brain, the resemblances between neonatal imitation and imitation in adults and the possibly lateralized neonatal imitation suggest that the mirror neuron system may contribute to neonatal imitation. Newborn infants not only imitate but also initiate previously imitated gestures, and are able to participate in overlapping imitation–initiation communicative cycles. Additionally, these social responses in neonates are faster than previously thought, and may enable them to have long-lasting intimate interactions much before language develops. Infants are equipped with a powerful, innate, reciprocal communicative ability already at birth. The earliest communication originates from imitation and this communicative ability presumably later evolves to language
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalInfant and Child Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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