Behavioral and Brain Sciences



Open Peer Commentary
Byrne & Russon: Learning by imitation

Emulation learning and cultural learning


Michael Tomasello a1
a1 Department of Psychology and Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322 psymt@emory.edu

Abstract

Byrne & Russon redefine the process of emulation learning as “goal emulation” and thereby distort its most distinctive characteristic: the criterion that the observer focuses on environmental rather than behavioral processes. The two empirical examples recounted – gorilla plant processing and orangutan manipulation of human artifacts – are hierarchically organized behaviors, but there is very little evidence that they involve imitative learning, program-level or otherwise.



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