Vocal Imitation

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  • Vocal imitation is a core mechanism for the development of vocal production, speech, and language. It requires both fine auditory perception and motor coordination. Infants are capable of imitating modeled vowel sounds from birth. Auditory-motor control of sound production is refined over the first few years of life until full mastery of spoken language is achieved. Vocal imitation, both voluntary and unintentional, is pervasive in language use throughout life. It is not specific to humans; vocal imitation is central to the acquisition of vocal repertoire in various species of songbirds. A long-standing debate in developmental psychology is whether imitation by infants primarily reflects a need to communicate, an act of social cognition that helps babies verify people's identities, or whether it is, at least at ...

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