Neurobiology of imitation

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Dec;19(6):661-5. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.09.008. Epub 2009 Nov 4.


Recent research on the neurobiology of imitation has gone beyond the study of its 'core' mechanisms, focus of investigation of the past years.. The current trends can be grouped into four main categories: (1) non 'core' neural mechanisms that are also important for imitation; (2) mechanisms of control, in both imitative learning and inhibition of imitation; (3) the developmental trajectory of neural mechanisms of imitation and their relation with the development of social cognition; (4) neurobiological mechanisms of imitation in non-primates, in particular vocal learning in songbirds, and their relations with similar mechanisms of vocal learning in humans. The existing data suggest that both perceptual and motor aspects of imitation follow organizing principles that originally belonged to the motor system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Feedback, Sensory
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurobiology*
  • Social Behavior
  • Songbirds / physiology