This paper focuses on how human complex imitation and its developmental processes are related to the abilities for action representation, acquisition of symbols, and language. After overviewing the characteristics of imitation in chimpanzees and humans, I propose a model of imitation emphasizing how these two species differ in the ways they process visual-motor information. These differences may in turn contribute to core interspecies differences in higher-order cognitive functions, not only for bodily imitation but for action understanding through complex referential information from faces, sharing symbols, and language. This ‘developmental-comparative’ approach reveals the development of species-specific intelligences, and shows what is shared and not shared between humans and other primates. In doing so, we can obtain a more complete understanding of the emergence of the ‘language-ready brain’ in relation to its biological and evolutionary foundations.
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DOI 10.1075/is.17034.myo
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Primate Cognition.Amanda Seed & Michael Tomasello - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):407-419.

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