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Children with autism do not overimitate

Marsh, L.; Pearson, A.; Ropar, D.; Hamilton, A.


A. Pearson

A. Hamilton


Copying the behaviour of others is important for forming social bonds with other people and for learning about the world [1]. After seeing an actor demonstrate actions on a novel object, typically developing (TD) children faithfully copy both necessary and visibly unnecessary actions [2]. This ‘overimitation’ is commonly described in terms of learning about the object, but may also reflect a social process such as the child’s motivation to affiliate with the demonstrator [3] or to conform to perceived norms [4]. Previous studies of overimitation do not separate object learning and social imitation because they use novel objects. Even though researchers consider these objects to be causally transparent in their mechanism, young children’s causal reasoning about novel objects is unclear [4]. The present study measures the social component of overimitation by using familiar objects, which preclude the learning component of the task. Here we report a significant reduction in overimitation in children with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). This is coherent with reports that these children have profound difficulties with social engagement [5] and do not spontaneously imitate action style [6] (see also [7]).


Marsh, L., Pearson, A., Ropar, D., & Hamilton, A. (2013). Children with autism do not overimitate. Current Biology, 23(7), R266-R268.

Journal Article Type Letter
Acceptance Date Apr 8, 2013
Publication Date Apr 8, 2013
Deposit Date Dec 11, 2018
Journal Current Biology
Print ISSN 0960-9822
Publisher Cell Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 7
Pages R266-R268
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Public URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Children with autism do not overimitate; Journal Title: Current Biology; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: simple-article; Copyright: Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.