In the course of a conversational interaction, the behavior of each talker often tends to become more similar to that of the conversational partner. Such convergence effects have been shown to manifest themselves under many different forms, which include posture, body movements, facial expressions, and speech. Imitative speech behavior is a phenomenon that may be actively exploited by talkers to facilitate their conversational exchange. It occurs, by definition, within a social interaction, but has consequences for language that extend well beyond the temporal limits of that interaction. It has been suggested that imitation plays an important role in speech development and may also form one of the key mechanisms that underlie the emergence and evolution of human languages. The behavioral tendency shown by humans to imitate others may be connected at the brain level with the presence of mirror neurons, whose discovery has raised important issues about the role that these neurons may fulfill in many different domains, from sensorimotor integration to the understanding of others' behavior.

The focus of this international symposium will be the fast-growing body of research on convergence phenomena between speakers in speech. The symposium will also aim to assess current research on the brain and cognitive underpinnings of imitative behavior. Our main goal will be to bring together researchers with a large variety of scientific backgrounds (linguistics, speech sciences, psycholinguistics, experimental sociolinguistics, neurosciences, cognitive sciences) with a view to improving our understanding of the role of imitation in the production, comprehension and acquisition of spoken language.

The symposium is organized by the Laboratoire Parole et Langage, CNRS and Aix-Marseille Université, Aix-en-Provence, France, with the financial support of Aix-Marseille Université, the CNRS, the Ville d'Aix-en-Provence, the Conseil Général des Bouches-du-Rhône, and the Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

ISICS 2012 is held under the auspices of the Brain and Language Research Institute at Aix-Marseille Université. It is an event supported by the International Speech Communication Association.

ISICS 2012 will be chaired by Noël Nguyen (LPL) and Marc Sato (GIPSA-Lab, Grenoble).

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