Testing the arousal hypothesis of neonatal imitation in infant rhesus macaques

Paukner, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3421-1864, Pedersen, E.J. and Simpson, E.A., 2017. Testing the arousal hypothesis of neonatal imitation in infant rhesus macaques. PLOS ONE, 12 (6): e0178864. ISSN 1932-6203

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Neonatal imitation is the matching of (often facial) gestures by newborn infants. Some studies suggest that performance of facial gestures is due to general arousal, which may produce false positives on neonatal imitation assessments. Here we examine whether arousal is linked to facial gesturing in newborn infant rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). We tested 163 infants in a neonatal imitation paradigm in their first postnatal week and analyzed their lipsmacking gestures (a rapid opening and closing of the mouth), tongue protrusion gestures, and yawn responses (a measure of arousal). Arousal increased during dynamic stimulus presentation compared to the static baseline across all conditions, and arousal was higher in the facial gestures conditions than the nonsocial control condition. However, even after controlling for arousal, we found a condition-specific increase in facial gestures in infants who matched lipsmacking and tongue protrusion gestures. Thus, we found no support for the arousal hypothesis. Consistent with reports in human newborns, imitators’ propensity to match facial gestures is based on abilities that go beyond mere arousal. We discuss optimal testing conditions to minimize potentially confounding effects of arousal on measurements of neonatal imitation.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: PLOS ONE
Creators: Paukner, A., Pedersen, E.J. and Simpson, E.A.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date: 15 June 2017
Volume: 12
Number: 6
ISSN: 1932-6203
Rights: This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 25 Jan 2019 16:08
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2019 08:14
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/35696

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