Neonatal imitation in rhesus macaques

Ferrari, P.F., Visalberghi, E., Paukner, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3421-1864, Fogassi, L., Ruggiero, A. and Suomi, S.J., 2006. Neonatal imitation in rhesus macaques. PLoS Biology, 4 (9): e302. ISSN 1544-9173

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Abstract

The emergence of social behaviors early in life is likely crucial for the development of mother–infant relationships. Some of these behaviors, such as the capacity of neonates to imitate adult facial movements, were previously thought to be limited to humans and perhaps the ape lineage. Here we report the behavioral responses of infant rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) to the following human facial and hand gestures: lip smacking, tongue protrusion, mouth opening, hand opening, and opening and closing of eyes (control condition). In the third day of life, infant macaques imitate lip smacking and tongue protrusion. On the first day of life, the model's mouth openings elicited a similar matched behavior (lip smacking) in the infants. These imitative responses are present at an early stage of development, but they are apparently confined to a narrow temporal window. Because lip smacking is a core gesture in face-to-face interactions in macaques, neonatal imitation may serve to tune infants' affiliative responses to the social world. Our findings provide a quantitative description of neonatal imitation in a nonhuman primate species and suggest that these imitative capacities, contrary to what was previously thought, are not unique to the ape and human lineage. We suggest that their evolutionary origins may be traced to affiliative gestures with communicative functions.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: PLoS Biology
Creators: Ferrari, P.F., Visalberghi, E., Paukner, A., Fogassi, L., Ruggiero, A. and Suomi, S.J.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date: 2006
Volume: 4
Number: 9
ISSN: 1544-9173
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1371/journal.pbio.0040302DOI
1427841Other
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 29 Mar 2021 13:08
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2021 13:08
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/42629

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