Imitation is the sincerest form of learning
Posted: Nov 01 2013
As parents we know that our babies are constantly learning by watching us and others. Now researchers at the University of Washington and Temple University have confirmed that babies directly connect your movements and actions to their bodies with brain stimulation in the corresponding part of their brain. This is so cool because when you are babywearing you are bringing your baby along with you and they get a front row seat to see all that you are doing. Your baby has the opportunity for increased brain stimulation and learning just because you are choosing to wear your baby. We have known about the emotional connection that babies make when they are worn or held and can see your face and feel your physical response; here is scientific research showing another level of incredible connection. Our babies are so amazing, aren't they?!
One more great reason to babywear!
I'll let the experts tell the rest of the story in their own words...
From the UW press release on 10/30/13:
“Babies are exquisitely careful people-watchers, and they’re primed to learn from others,” said Andrew Meltzoff, co-author and co-director of the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “And now we see that when babies watch someone else, it activates their own brains."
“Our findings show that when babies see others produce actions with a particular body part, their brains are activated in a corresponding way,” said Joni Saby, lead author and a psychology graduate student at Temple University in Philadelphia.
“The reason this is exciting is that it gives insight into a crucial aspect of imitation,” said co-author Peter Marshall, an associate psychology professor at Temple University. “To imitate the action of another person, babies first need to register what body part the other person used. Our findings suggest that babies do this in a particular way by mapping the actions of the other person onto their own body.”
Meltzoff added, “The neural system of babies directly connects them to other people, which jump-starts imitation and social-emotional connectedness and bonding. Babies look at you and see themselves.”
From the KUOW/NPR story on 10/31/13:
"Babies seem to have a picture of their own body in their head – a schema that “allows them at a fundamental level to tie themselves to you and recognize the similarity between self and other.”"
"Besides learning movement, Meltzoff said the implications of their research include how babies learn about their culture and connect with other people. Their research is opening up new questions and possibilities in the field."
Here is the original PLOS One journal article.