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Gentilucci M, Bernardis P (2007) Imitation during phoneme production. Neuropsychologia, 45(3):608-615  
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Abstract
Does listening to and observing the speaking interlocutor influence phoneme production? In two experiments female participants were required to recognize and, then, to repeat the string-of-phonemes /aba/ presented by actors visually, acoustically and audiovisually. In experiment 1 a male actor presented the string-of-phonemes and the participants’ lip kinematics and voice spectra were compared with those of a reading control condition. In experiment 2 female and male actors presented the string-of-phonemes and the lip kinematics and the voice spectra of the participants’ responses to the male actors were compared with those to the female actors (control condition). In both experiments 1 and 2, the lip kinematics in the visual presentations and the voice spectra in the acoustical presentations changed in the comparison with the control conditions approaching the male actors’ values, which were different from those of the female participants and actors. The variation in lip kinematics induced changes also in voice formants but only in the visual presentation. The data suggest that both features of the lip kinematics and of the voice spectra tend to be automatically imitated when repeating a string-of-phonemes presented by a visible and/or audible speaking interlocutor. The use of imitation, in place of the usual lip kinematics and vocal features, suggests an automatic and unconscious tendency of the perceiver to interact closely with the interlocutor. This is in accordance with the idea that resonant circuits are activated by the activity of the mirror system, which relates observation to execution of arm and mouth gestures