Author(s): Paukner A, Anderson JR, Borelli E, Visalberghi E, Ferrari PF
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Abstract This study investigated whether monkeys recognize when a human experimenter imitates their actions towards an object. Two experimenters faced 10 pigtailed macaques, who were given access to an interesting object. One experimenter imitated the monkeys' object-directed actions, the other performed temporally contingent but structurally different object-directed actions. Results show a significant visual preference for the imitator during manual object manipulations, but not mouthing actions. We argue that the ability to match actions could be based on both visual-visual and kinaesthetic-visual matching skills, and that mirror neurons, which have both visual and motor properties, could serve as a neural basis for recognizing imitation. However, imitation recognition as assessed by visual preference does not necessarily imply the capacity to attribute imitative intentionality to the imitator. The monkeys might implicitly recognize when they are being imitated without deeper insight into the mental processes of others.
This article was published in Biol Lett
and referenced in Journal of Primatology