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Imitation in Angelman syndrome: the role of social engagement
journal contributionposted on 20.11.2020, 05:31 by S Micheletti, Giacomo Vivanti, S Renzetti, P Martelli, S Calza, P Accorsi, A Alessandrini, N D’Adda, M De Simone, L Ferrari, V Foresti, J Galli, L Giordano, E Scarano, C Strobio, E Fazzi
© 2020, The Author(s). Individuals with Angelman syndrome (AS) are characterized by severe cognitive impairments alongside an enhanced drive for social engagement. As knowledge on imitation skills in this population is limited, we conducted the first controlled study of imitation in AS. We examined how 23 individuals with AS and 21 typically developing young children with similar mental age imitated novel actions in response to socially or non-socially engaging models, and in response to video-recorded versus live demonstrations of novel actions. Individuals with AS imitated as frequently and as accurately as typical young children in response to live demonstrations; but they imitated less frequently and less accurately in response to video-recorded demonstrations. Further, imitation was modulated by whether the demonstrator was socially engaging or emotionally neutral in the AS group, while this modulation was not present in the comparison group. Individuals with higher mental age imitated more frequently and more accurately across groups. Imitation performance in AS appears to be more modulated by the social context compared to typical infants and young children with similar mental age, possibly reflecting an enhanced drive for social engagement. A socially engaging instructional style might facilitate imitative learning in this population.