Motor cortex activity during action observation predicts subsequent action imitation in human infants

Köster, M. and Langeloh, M. and Kliesch, C. and Kanngiesser, P. and Hoehl, S. (2020) Motor cortex activity during action observation predicts subsequent action imitation in human infants. NeuroImage, 218. ISSN 1053-8119

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Abstract

From early on, human infants acquire novel actions through observation and imitation. Yet, the neural mechanisms that underlie infants’ action learning are not well understood. Here, we combine the assessment of infants’ neural processes during the observation of novel actions on objects (i.e. transitive actions) and their subsequent imitation of those actions. Most importantly, we found that the 7–10 ​Hz motor cortex activity increased during action observation and predicted action imitation in 20-month-olds (n ​= ​36). 10-month-olds (n ​= ​42), who did not yet reliably imitate others’ actions, showed a highly similar neural activity pattern during action observation. The presence or absence of communicative signals did neither affect infants’ neural processing nor their subsequent imitation behavior. These findings provide first evidence for neural processes in the motor cortex that allow infants to acquire transitive actions from others ‒ and pinpoint a key learning mechanism in the developing brain of human infants.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
NeuroImage
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2800/2808
Subjects:
ID Code:
145447
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
15 Jul 2020 14:55
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2020 06:21