The Imitative Mind: Development, Evolution and Brain Bases

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Modern research demonstrates that imitation is more complex and interesting than classical theories proposed. Monkeys do not imitate whereas humans are prolific imitators. This book provides an analysis of empirical work on imitation and shows how much can be learned through interdisciplinary research ranging from cells to individuals, apes to men, and babies to adults. Covering diverse perspectives on a great puzzle of human psychology, the book is multidisciplinary in its approach to revealing how and why we imitate
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
European and US psychologists attending a March 1999 conference at Kloster Seeon in Bavaria present 18 papers on developmental and evolutionary approaches to imitation; cognitive approaches to imitations, body scheme, and perception-action coding; and neuroscience underpinnings of imitation and apraxia. They focus on imitation at the level of individual behavior, short-lived imitative acts, and the functional architecture of how imitation is accomplished at the psychological and neuro-physiological levels. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
Review of the hardback: 'Most of the book's merit is in the chapters themselves, most of which are skillfully written such that their relevance goes beyond the limits of the discipline at hand and illuminates issues relevant to neighboring disciplines as well. The two editors are leading figures in the fields of developmental and experimental psychology, and their respective research contributions blend well conceptually.' Nature Neuroscience

Review of the hardback: 'Despite the variety of disciplines and viewpoints represented, the editors, Meltzoff and Prinz, were able to foster a strong sense of coherency by encouraging the authors to make strategic cross-references to each other's papers. Without exception the essays are rich in empirical data. Experiments are viewed, and in a few cases previously unpublished experiments are discussed.' Infant and Child Development

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Andrew N. Meltzoff studied psychology at Harvard and Oxford (D. Phil. 1976). He has been a full professor at the University of Washington since 1988. In 2000 he was named Director of the UW Center for Mind, Brain and Learning. Meltzoff is the recipient of a National Institute of Health Merit Award for outstanding research. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, and a foreign member of the Norwegian National Academy of Science and Letters. He is the co-author of Words, Thoughts and Theories (1997) and The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us about the Mind (1999).

Wolfgang Prinz studied Psychology, Philosophy and Zoology at the University of Muenster, Germany. He took his Ph.D. in 1970 at the Dept. of Psychology at the University of Bielefeld (1975–1990) and at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (1990–1998). Since 1990 he is the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research, Munich. He has published empirical and theoretical work on perception, action, consciousness and attention as well as on the history of psychology.

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Table of Contents

An introduction to the imitative mind and brain 1
1 Elements of a developmental theory of imitation 19
2 Imitation and imitation recognition: Functional use in preverbal infants and nonverbal children with autism 42
3 Self-awareness, other-awareness, and secondary representation 63
4 Notes on individual differences and the assumed elusiveness of neonatal imitation 74
5 Ego function of early imitation 85
6 The imitator's representation of the imitated: Ape and child 98
7 Seeing actions as hierarchically organized structures: Great ape manual skills 122
8 Experimental approaches to imitation 143
9 Imitation: Common mechanisms in the observation and execution of finger and mouth movements 163
10 Goal-directed imitation 183
11 Visuomotor couplings in object-oriented and imitative actions 206
12 On bodies and events 221
13 What is the body schema? 233
14 From mirror neurons to imitation: Facts and speculations 247
15 Cell populations in the banks of the superior temporal sulcus of the macaque and imitation 267
16 Is there such a thing as functional equivalence between imagined, observed, and executed action? 291
17 The role of imitation in body ownership and mental growth 311
18 Imitation, apraxia, and hemisphere dominance 331
Index 347
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