Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Byrne & Russon: Learning by imitation

Insufficient support for either response “priming” or “program-level imitation”

Thomas R. Zentall a1
a1 Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506


Byrne & Russon propose that priming can account for the imitation of simple actions, but they fail to explain how the behavior of another can prime the observer's own behavior. They also propose that imitation of complex skills requires a sequence of acts tied together by a program, but they fail to rule out the role of trial-and-error learning and perceptual/motivational mechanisms in such task acquisition.