How do humans learn to imitate?

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Professor Virginia Slaughtervps@psy.uq.edu.au

Imitation is fundamental to being human; it is one of ways that people connect with and learn from each other. But where does the ability to imitate come from? Currently there is no clear answer to that question. For decades it has been supposed that imitation is inborn, but recent research based here at UQ as well as internationally, indicates that is not likely. Rather, it appears that human infants initially acquire the ability to imitate during the first year of life. This PhD will investigate the learning experiences and neural (mirroring) mechanisms that engender infants' ability to imitate. The project will involve testing infants (ages 1 - 24 months) and possibly preschool aged children. PhD candidates will utilise a unique combination of EMG and behavioural observations of infant/child behaviour in experimental paradigms. The new knowledge arising from this research will clarify the origins of our uniquely human sociality. The outcomes should also enable earlier identification of certain developmental problems and provide novel avenues for intervention.

The successful applicant will enrol through the School of Psychology.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of human development and cognitive neuroscience would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of psychology and the potential for scholastic success.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Apply now