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Mechanisms of action imitation were examined. Previous studies have suggested that success or failure of imitation is determined at the point of observing an action. In other words, cognitive processing after observation is not related to the success of imitation; 20 university students participated in each of three experiments in which they observed a series of object manipulations consisting of four elements (hands, tools, object, and end points) and then imitated the manipulations. In Experiment 1, a specific intially observed element was color coded, and the specific manipulated object at the imitation stage was identically color coded; participants accurately imitated the color coded element. In Experiment 2, a specific element was color coded at the observation but not at the imitation stage, and there were no effects of color coding on imitation. In Experiment 3, participants were verbally instructed to attend to a specific element at the imitation stage, but the verbal instructions had no effect. Thus, the success of imitation may not be determined at the stage of observing an action and color coding can provide a clue for imitation at the imitation stage.