Perspectives on Imitation, Volume 1

From Neuroscience to Social Science - Volume 1: Mechanisms of Imitation and Imitation in Animals

Imitation is not the low-level, cognitively undemanding behavior it is often assumed to be, but rather—along with language and the ability to understand other minds—one of a trio of related capacities that are fundamental to human mentality. In these landmark volumes, leading researchers across a range of disciplines provide a state-of-the-art view of imitation, integrating the latest findings and theories with reviews of seminal work, and revealing why imitation is a topic of such intense current scientific interest. Perspectives are drawn from neuroscience and brain imaging, animal and developmental psychology, primatology, ethology, philosophy, anthropology, media studies, economics, sociology, education, and law. These volumes provide a resource that makes this research accessible across disciplines and clarifies its importance for the social sciences and philosophy as well as for the cognitive sciences. As a further aid to cross-fertilization, each volume includes extensive interdisciplinary commentary and discussion.

The first volume considers possible mechanisms of imitation, including discussion of mirror systems, ideomotor and common coding theories, and the possibility of "shared circuits" for control, imitation, and simulation, and then takes up imitation in animals, with illuminating comparisons to human imitation. The second volume focuses first on the roles of imitation in human development and in learning to understand the minds of others, and then on the broader social and cultural roles and functions of imitation, including discussions of meme theory and cultural evolution, and of the pervasive imitative tendencies of normal adults and their relevance for understanding the effects of the media on human behavior.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: The Importance of Imitation

    Susan Hurley and Nick Chater

  2. 1. The Mirror Neuron System and Imitation

    Giacomo Rizzolatti

  3. 2. Understanding Others: Imitation, Language, and Empathy

    Marco Iacoboni

  4. 3. "Being Like Me": Self–Other Identity, Mirror Neurons, and Empathy

    Vittorio Gallese

  5. 4. The Neurophysiology of Imitation and Intersubjectivity

    Jean Decety and Thierry Chaminade

  6. 5. An Ideomotor Approach to Imitation

    Wolfgang Prinz

  7. 6. Imitation by Association

    Cecilia Heyes

  8. 7. The Shared Circuits Hypothesis: A Unified Functional Architecture for Control, Imitation, and Simulation

    Susan Hurley

  9. 8. Commentary and Discussion on Mechanisms of Imitation
  10. 9. Detecting, Understanding, and Explaining Imitation by Animals

    Richard W. Byrne

  11. 10. Insights into Vocal Imitation in African Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus)

    Irene M. Pepperberg

  12. 11. Selective Imitation in Child and Chimpanzee: A Window on the Construal of Others' Actions

    Andrew Whiten, Victoria Horner, and Sarah Marshall-Pescini

  13. 12. Commentary and Discussion on Imitation in Animals
  14. Bibliography
  15. Contributors
  16. Index to Volume 2