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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Dec;19(6):661-5. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.09.008. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Neurobiology of imitation.

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Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Jane & Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Brain Research Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 660 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095, United States.


Recent research on the neurobiology of imitation has gone beyond the study of its 'core' mechanisms, focus of investigation of the past years.. The current trends can be grouped into four main categories: (1) non 'core' neural mechanisms that are also important for imitation; (2) mechanisms of control, in both imitative learning and inhibition of imitation; (3) the developmental trajectory of neural mechanisms of imitation and their relation with the development of social cognition; (4) neurobiological mechanisms of imitation in non-primates, in particular vocal learning in songbirds, and their relations with similar mechanisms of vocal learning in humans. The existing data suggest that both perceptual and motor aspects of imitation follow organizing principles that originally belonged to the motor system.

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