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Newborn Imitation

The Stakes of a Controversy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 July 2020

Ruth Leys
Affiliation:
The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

Summary

Newborn imitation has recently become the focus of a major controversy in the human sciences. New studies have reexamined the evidence and found it wanting. Imitation has been regarded as a crucial capability of neonates ever since 1977, when two American psychologists first published experiments appearing to demonstrate that babies at birth are able to copy a variety of facial movements. The findings overturned decades of assumptions about the competence of newborns. But what if claims for newborn imitation are not true? Influential theories about the mechanisms underlying imitation, the role of mirror neurons, the nature of the self and of infant mental states, will all have to be modified or abandoned if it turns out that babies cannot imitate at birth. This Element offers a critical assessment of those theories and the stakes involved.
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Online ISBN: 9781108920308
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication: 30 July 2020

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Newborn Imitation
  • Ruth Leys, The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland
  • Online ISBN: 9781108920308
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Newborn Imitation
  • Ruth Leys, The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland
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Newborn Imitation
  • Ruth Leys, The Johns Hopkins University, Maryland
  • Online ISBN: 9781108920308
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