<p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>To determine whether early imitative responses fade out following the maturation of attentional mechanisms, the relationship between primitive imitation behaviors and the development of attention was examined in 4-month-old infants. They were divided into high and low imitators, based on an index of imitation. The status of attention was assessed by studying inhibition of return (IOR). Nine-month-old infants were also tested to confirm the hypothesis.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>The IOR latency data replicate previous results that infants get faster to produce a covert shift of attention with increasing age. However, those 4-month-olds who showed less imitation had more rapid saccades to the cue before target presentation.</p> <p>Conclusion</p> <p>The cortical control of saccade planning appears to be related to an apparent drop in early imitation. We interpret the results as suggesting a relationship between the status of imitation and the neural development of attention-related eye movement.</p
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