Neural mirroring mechanisms and imitation in human infants

Bibliographic Collection: 
CARTA-Inspired Publication
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Marshall, PJ; Meltzoff, AN
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
Volume: 369
Issue: 1644
Date Published: 06/2014
Publication Language: eng

Studying human infants will increase our understanding of the nature,origins and function of neural mirroring mechanisms. Human infants areprolific imitators. Infant imitation indicates observation–execution linkagesin the brain prior to language and protracted learning. Investigations ofneural aspects of these linkages in human infants have focused on the sensorimotor mu rhythm in the electroencephalogram, which occurs in the a frequency range over central electrode sites. Recent results show that the infant mu rhythm is desynchronized during action execution as well asaction observation. Current work is elucidating properties of the infantmu rhythm and how it may relate to prelinguistic action processing andsocial understanding. Here, we consider this neuroscience research inrelation to developmental psychological theory, particularly the ‘Like-Me’ framework, which holds that one of the chief cognitive tasks of the human infant is to map the similarity between self and other. We elucidate the value of integrating neuroscience findings with behavioural studies of infant imitation, and the reciprocal benefit of examining mirroring mechanisms from an ontogenetic perspective.