Imitative responding is a very important form of learning demonstrated by neurotypical individuals across the lifespan, from infants to older adults. Behaviors (i.e., responses) imitated can include motor movements as well as vocal responses, each behavior in reaction to an observed model. Interestingly, infants can demonstrate imitative responding within the first weeks of life, and imitative responding can be shown following a delay in the model presentation, and across environments. Such adaptive features of imitative responding mean that individuals can utilize their imitative repertoires to learn a variety of new behaviors, including language and communication (i.e., both verbal and nonverbal).

Imitative responding requires the presence of an observed model. Engaging in imitative responding, in turn, prompts attention and social interaction from others within the individual’s ...

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