Imitation recognition provides a viable platform from which advanced social cognitive skills may develop. Despite evidence that non-human primates are capable of imitation recognition, how this ability is related to social cognitive skills is unknown. In this study, we compared imitation recognition performance, as indicated by the production of testing behaviors, with performance on a series of tasks that assess social and physical cognition in 49 chimpanzees. In the initial analyses, we found that males were more responsive than females to being imitated and engaged in signiﬁcantly greater behavior repetitions and testing sequences. We also found that subjects who consistently recognized being imitated performed better on social but not physical cognitive tasks, as measured by the Primate Cognitive Test Battery. These ﬁndings suggest that the neural constructs underlying imitation recognition are likely associated with or among those underlying more general socio-communicative abilities in chimpanzees. Implications regarding how imitation recognition may facilitate other social cognitive processes, such as mirror self-recognition, are discussed.
Citation: Pope SM, Russell JL and Hopkins WD (2015) The association between imitation recognition and socio-communicative competencies in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Front. Psychol. 6:188. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00188
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