Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Byrne & Russon: Learning by imitation

If it is inevitable, it need not be imitated

Patricia J. Bauer a1
a1 Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0345


Byrne & Russon provide illustrative examples of imitative abilities in nonhuman primates. The convincing aspects of the examples are not, however, their hierarchical or structured nature: Such organization may be inevitable and hence, does not require explanation via imitation. Rather, examples of imitation are derived from reproduction of behaviors and sequences that, from the organism's perspective, are arbitrary.