imprinting: developmental learning of a type first brought to scientific attention in studies of animal behavior by ethologists. Imprinting takes place in a given species when behavior phyletically programmed into the nervous system of that species requires a matching socioenvironmental stimulus to release it, when the matching must take place during a critical or sensitive developmental period (not before or after), and when, having occurred, the resultant behavior pattern is unusually resistant to extinction. In human beings, native language learning is a manifestation of imprinting. See also critical period.

Dictionary of Sexology Project: Main Index

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