Development of imitation & action understanding Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Development of imitation & action understanding Deck (53):

What is imitation?

- copying of a behaviour
- a way to transfer info between individuals and down generations without the need for genetic inheritance


What are perceptually transparent actions?

Actions that yield similar perceptual inputs when they are observed and executed

The imitator must determine which motor commands to use to reproduce, from a third-party perspective, the sensory consequences of the actor’s movement


What are perceptually opaque actions?

Actions that can’t be observed by the actor
- e.g. facial expressions, whole body actions


Heyes suggested 2 sources of sensorimotor experience that account for the emergence of associations for opaque actions.
What are those sources?

1. Experience mediated by mirror reflections (the motor representation (“smile”) is paired with the corresponding sensory perception (sight of a smiling face))

2. Experience of being imitated by others (e.g. Malatesta and Haviland (1982) – parents imitate young infants → when infant ‘stumbles across’ the motor plan to e.g. frown, this may be paired with the sight of their parent’s frowning face)


According to Uzgiris (1972), what types of actions do infants tend to imitate first?

Perceptually transparent actions


Who found that perceptually transparent actions were imitated 6 months before perceptually opaque actions?

Jones (2007)


What does the evolutionary perspective say about imitation?
Will newborns be good at imitation?

- imitation is an innate mechanism that matches observed actions onto executed actions
- newborns will be good at it


What does the experimental perspective say about imitation?
Will newborns be good at imitation?

- infants learn to match their expressions to those of others
- newborns won't be good at it


Which 3 facial gestures (+ neutral expression) did Meltzoff and Moore (1997) perform to newborns in their study?

- mouth widening
- lips pursing
- tongue protruding


What did Meltzoff and Moore (1997) find? Does it support the evolutionary or experimental perspective?

Newborns imitated all 3 actions
- imitation is innate (evolutionary)


Meltzoff and Moore (1994) claim that early facial imitation is based on...

...Active Intermodal Mapping (AIM).


What type of process is imitation? What is it captured by?

Imitation is a matching-to-target process, captured by the proprioceptive loop


What is our motor performance evaluated against?

It is evaluated against the seen target
- this serves as a basis for correction


Perceived and produced actions are coded within which type of framework? What does it allow infants to do?

They are coded within a common supramodal framework

It allows infants to detect equivalences between their own acts and ones they see


What is the core requirement for imitation?

The ability to solve the correspondence problem (= translate visual info from the modelled action into matching motor output)


Who proposed the AIM model?

Meltzoff and Moore (1997)


What are the 3 stages of facial imitation in infancy (Meltzoff and Moore, 1997)?

1. Perceptual system
2. Supramodal representational system
3. Action system


In the AIM model, what does the Perceptual System do?

It provides a perception of the infant’s own body and their external world


In the AIM model, what does the Supramodal Representational System do?

It compares what the infant sees (external target) with what they are doing themselves (their body position)

If they match → successful imitation
If there is a mismatch → the Action System comes into play


In the AIM model, what does the Action System do?

When there is a mismatch (between the external target and the child's body position), the child's body must perform an act (body babbling, movement) --> their body state changes


What research disproves the AIM model?

Anisfeld (1991) - infants only imitated tongue protrusion

Jones (2006) - tongue protrusion isn’t driven by the matching mechanism; newborns protruded their tongue to anything interesting (flashing lights, opera music)


Matching might be learnt.
What model did Heyes (2010) propose?

Associative Sequence Learning model


What is the ASL model?

- an account of the info-processing mechanisms involved in imitation
- it explains how mirror neurons can match observed and executed actions


What sort of representations are acquired during development? How?

Associations between sensory and motor representations are acquired as a result of correlated sensorimotor experience


Activation of the motor representation is often paired with...

...the corresponding perceptual representation.


What bidirectional link is formed over time? (ASL model) What happens as a result of this link?

A bidirectional link between activation of the motor representation and the corresponding perceptual representation is formed

Activation of one will excite the other


What happens if this bidirectional link is strong? (ASL model)

Excitation of the motor representation will lead to activation of muscles involved in executing the represented movement, but may/may not lead to overt performance of the movement


What are the 4 sources of learning?

1. Self-observation
2. Mirror self-observation
3. Caregiver's imitate
4. Synchronous action


Which study looks at self-observation (source of learning)?

White et al. (1964) - 2-3 month-olds spent most waking hours watching their own hands; the sensory feeling and motor representation of the same action was associated


What study is associated with mirror self-observation (source of learning)?

Amsterdam (1972) – 85% of 6-12 month-olds responded to their own mirror image as a ‘playmate’ and interacted with it; the sensory account and motor account was associated


What study is associated with caregiver's imitate (source of learning)?

Uzgiris et al. (1986) – infants spent most waking hours interacting face-to-face with adults; imitated their CG and vice versa; the sensory account and motor account of the same action was associated


What study is associated with synchronous action (source of learning)?

O’Tool and Dubin (1968) – during 55% of spoon-feeding sequences, both the infant and their CG opened their mouths
- there is no functional need for the CG to open their mouth but there may be a social need


Lack of neonatal imitation does NOT provide support for which account?

Learning hypothesis - when something is absent it is difficult to prove that it doesn’t exist at all


According to the associative account, can we alter mappings in adults?

YES - if mappings develop through experience, we should be able to modify them with different experiences


According to the natural selection account, can we alter mappings in adults?

NO - experience-based alteration of innate systems would be maladaptive (hard to alter)


Heyes et al. (2005) - ____ are performed faster than _______ (automatic imitation)

a) imitative hand responses
b) non-imitative hand responses

Heyes et al. (2005) – imitative hand responses are performed faster than non-imitative hand responses (automatic imitation)


What did Heyes et al. (2005) do in their study of imitation and what did they find?

Control group vs. group that received non-matching training (they learnt to open their hand when they saw a closed hand and vice versa) – they associated the sensory input with the motor action

--> training altered the mappings between the sensory and motor representation


What account is Heyes et al. (2005) (training) study consistent with?

Associative account - mappings develop through experience


Which model is the Wealth of the Stimulus embodied in?

ASL model


What does the Wealth of the Stimulus state?

- interaction with the environment drives our mechanisms for imitation

- the correspondence problem is solved by sensorimotor learning --> the experience necessary for this type of learning is provided by the environment


What model is the Poverty of the Stimulus embodied in?

AIM model


What does the Poverty of the Stimulus state?

- imitation requires the imitator to solve the correspondence problem (solved by an innate cognitive mechanism)

- imitation isn't based on learning because infants don't display imitation very early on

- there is insufficient info in the environment to account for infants' behaviour


Is it more likely that imitation evolves through natural selection or develops through associative learning?

Imitation more likely develops through associative learning


What is action understanding?

Understanding others' actions by combining perceptual info about the behaviour, knowledge about the context of the action and our own experiences


What type of actions does our motor system represent - observed or executed?

Observed actions - they are represented before they happen and in their entirety (even if they are only partially presented)


When are motor representations of observed actions activated?

When we want to imitate an action and we are watching an action being performed


Why is it beneficial for AU to help us predict actions?

To help us experience and improve our own actions


Which system is activated when monkeys observe actions?

Motor system


Gallese et al. (1996) found that mirror neurons fire when monkeys observe and execute the same action. Which area of the brain do these mirror neurons fire in?

Ventral premotor cortex


Observe another's action --> motor commands for producing it ourselves --> intentions that drive the same action in us --> ...

...this same intention drives the action in someone else


Kilner et al. (2007) found that motor activations can anticipate how an action might unfold by predicting what someone will do.



Motor activations can anticipate how an action might unfold by predicting what someone will do.


When 9 month-olds saw an action, there was motor activity BEFORE/AFTER the action was observed (Southgate et al., 2009).

Before - 9 month-olds predicted what the actor was going to do


Southgate et al. (2010) - 9 month-olds showed evidence of motor activations when they saw...

...part of a familiar grasping action

- they represented the unobserved part and could predict the outcome