Neonatal imitation predicts infant rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) social and anxiety-related behaviours at one year

Kaburu, S.S.K. ORCID: 0000-0001-7456-3269, Paukner, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3421-1864, Simpson, E.A., Suomi, S.J. and Ferrari, P.F., 2016. Neonatal imitation predicts infant rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) social and anxiety-related behaviours at one year. Scientific Reports, 6 (1): 34997. ISSN 2045-2322

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The identification of early markers that predict the development of specific social trajectories is critical to understand the developmental and neurobiological underpinnings of healthy social development. We investigated, in infant rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), whether newborns’ capacity to imitate facial gestures is a valid predictive marker for the emergence of social competencies later in development, at one year of age. Here we first assessed whether infant macaques (N = 126) imitate lipsmacking gestures (a macaque affiliative expression) performed by a human experimenter in their first week of life. We then collected data on infants’ social interactions (aggression, grooming, and play) and self-scratching (a proxy indicator of anxiety) at 11–14 months when infants were transferred into a new enclosure with a large social group. Our results show that neonatal imitators exhibit more dominant behaviours, are less anxious, and, for males only, spend more time in play at one year old. These findings suggest that neonatal imitation may be an early predictor of infant sociality and may help identify infants at risk of neurodevelopmental social deficits.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Creators: Kaburu, S.S.K., Paukner, A., Simpson, E.A., Suomi, S.J. and Ferrari, P.F.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date: 11 October 2016
Volume: 6
Number: 1
ISSN: 2045-2322
BFsrep34997Publisher Item Identifier
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 24 Jan 2019 12:42
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 13:04

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