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Re-examination of Oostenbroek et al. (2016): evidence for neonatal imitation of tongue protrusion

Meltzoff, A. N., Murray, L., Simpson, E., Heimann, M., Nagy, E., Nadel, J., Pedersen, E. J., Brooks, R., Messinger, D. S., De Pascalis, L., Subiaul, F., Paukner, A. and Ferrari, P. F. (2018) Re-examination of Oostenbroek et al. (2016): evidence for neonatal imitation of tongue protrusion. Developmental Science, 21 (4). e12609. ISSN 1363-755X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/desc.12609

Abstract/Summary

The meaning, mechanism, and function of imitation in early infancy have been actively discussed since Meltzoff and Moore's (1977) report of facial and manual imitation by human neonates. Oostenbroek et al. (2016) claim to challenge the existence of early imitation and to counter all interpretations so far offered. Such claims, if true, would have implications for theories of social-cognitive development. Here we identify 11 flaws in Oostenbroek et al.'s experimental design that biased the results toward null effects. We requested and obtained the authors’ raw data. Contrary to the authors’ conclusions, new analyses reveal significant tongue-protrusion imitation at all four ages tested (1, 3, 6, and 9 weeks old). We explain how the authors missed this pattern and offer five recommendations for designing future experiments. Infant imitation raises fundamental issues about action representation, social learning, and brain–behavior relations. The debate about the origins and development of imitation reflects its importance to theories of developmental science.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Research Network
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Cognition Research (CCR)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:73061
Additional Information:See invited reply: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/desc.12738
Publisher:Blackwell Publishing

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