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Imitation is at the heart of social cognitive neuroscience. It is a neurocognitive process that bridges the gap between minds; powers cognitive and social development; promotes cooperation and well-being; and provides a channel of cultural inheritance. The papers in this theme issue review cutting-edge research on imitation and report original data using all of the principal methodologies, including comparative, developmental, cognitive-behavioural and neurological techniques. This paper introduces these interdisciplinary contributions and, proposing that the field currently has four inter-related foci--correspondence, control, cooperation and cultural inheritance--offers an overview of the state-of-the-art in research on the mechanisms and functions of imitation.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





2293 - 2298


Biological Evolution, Cognition, Culture, Humans, Imitative Behavior, Neurosciences, Social Behavior