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

Emese Nagy, Karen Pilling, Victoria Blake, Hajnalka Orvos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


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
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2020


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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