Lipsmacking imitation skill in newborn macaques is predictive of social partner discrimination

Simpson, E.A., Paukner, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3421-1864, Sclafani, V., Suomi, S.J. and Ferrari, P.F., 2013. Lipsmacking imitation skill in newborn macaques is predictive of social partner discrimination. PLoS ONE, 8 (12): e82921. ISSN 1932-6203

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Newborn rhesus macaques imitate facial gestures even after a delay, revealing the flexible nature of their early communicative exchanges. In the present study we examined whether newborn macaques are also sensitive to the identities of the social partners with whom they are interacting. We measured infant monkeys’ (n = 90) lipsmacking and tongue protrusion gestures in a face-to-face interaction task with a human experimenter in the first week of life. After a one minute delay, the same person who previously presented gestures or a different person returned and presented a still face to infants. We had two primary predictions: (1) infants would demonstrate higher rates of overall gesturing, and especially lipsmacking—an affiliative gesture—to a familiar person, compared to a novel person, and (2) infants’ imitative skills would positively correlate with gestures to familiar, but not unfamiliar, social partners, as both abilities may reflect a strong general social interest. We found that overall infants did not produce more gestures or more lipsmacking when approached by a familiar person compared to a novel person; however, we did find individual differences in infants’ social responsiveness: lipsmacking imitation was positively correlated with lipsmacking during the return period when the person was the same (p = .025), but not when the person was novel (p = .44). These findings are consistent with the notion that imitative skill is reflective of infants’ more general interest in social interactions.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Creators: Simpson, E.A., Paukner, A., Sclafani, V., Suomi, S.J. and Ferrari, P.F.
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Date: 18 December 2013
Volume: 8
Number: 12
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: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 25 Mar 2021 12:47
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:05

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