Positive evidence for neonatal imitation: A general response, adaptive engagement

Emese Nagy (Lead / Corresponding author), Karen Pilling, Victoria Blake, Hajnalka Orvos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
381 Downloads (Pure)


The study employed four gestural models using frame-by-frame microanalytic methods, and followed how the behaviours unfolded over time. Forty-two human newborns (0–3 days) were examined for their imitation of tongue protrusion, ‘head tilt with looking up’, three-finger and two-finger gestures. The results showed that all three gesture groups were imitated. Results of the temporal analyses revealed an early and a later, second stage of responses. Later responses were characterized by a suppression of similar, but non-matching movements. Perinatal imitation is not a phenomenon served by a single underlying mechanism; it has at least two different stages. An early phase is followed by voluntary matching behaviour by the neonatal infant.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12894
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number2
Early online date13 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • Perinatal imitation
  • neonatal imitation
  • imprinting
  • intersubjectivity
  • behavioural analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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