chapter  2
25 Pages

Intersubjective vocal imitation in early mother-infant interaction

WithGiannis Kugiumutzakis

This chapter investigates the phenomena of vocal imitation in mother-infant interaction in the home environment from the fifteenth day after delivery until the sixth month. Researchers agree that mothers imitate the vocalizations of their infants immediately after birth and throughout the first six months of life. In 1896, Sully claimed that the appearance of vocal imitation in newborn infants is due to random reflex activity. J. Piaget adopted the reflex concept to explain the origin of infant intelligence and concluded that imitation was a learned ability. It seems that during the early months the most basic function of vocal imitation in mother-infant interaction is an interpersonal sense of communicative sharing. The significance of emotional loading for imitation games in early mother-infant play is uncertain. Vocal imitations were extraordinarily fast and, in the simple, one-round form of imitation, the pause and duration of the activities of model and imitator had to be measured in tenths of a second.