Sponsored by the UCLA Brain Mapping Center Faculty

The focus of these talks is on advancing the use of brain mapping methods in neuroscience with an emphasis on contemporary issues of neuroplasticity, neurodevelopment, and biomarker development in neuropsychiatric disease.

Hosted By: Marco Iacoboni, MD, PhD, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA

“Let's unravel the social chameleon: Investigations on the underlying processes of imitation”

Oliver Genschow, PhD
Junior Professor, University of Cologne


As the saying goes “monkey see, monkey do,” individuals have the tendency to automatically imitate others. Indeed, past research has shown that individuals imitate a wide range of different behaviors including speech patterns, movements, gestures and emotions. Such imitative behavior fulfills an important social function in the sense that it bonds humans more strongly together by fostering liking, feelings of affiliation and pro-social behavior. Despite such research, the exact mechanisms underlying human imitation are still a matter of investigation. In order to shed light onto the mechanisms underlying imitation I focus on two main questions. First, is imitation a goal-based or a movement-based phenomenon? Second, is imitation a reactive or, rather, a predictive phenomenon? With respect to the first question, I will present data suggesting that differences in psychological distance moderate the degree to which individuals imitate in a goal-based or movement-based manner. With respect to the second question, I will argue that imitation processes might already be initiated as soon as an observer can anticipate what another person is willing to do.

March 16, 2018 2:00pm - 3:00pm PDT
Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center Conference Room (221)
660 Charles E. Young Drive South
For more information contact: Mary Susselman (310-206-4291,
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