Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #404
CE Offered: BACB
Naming and Stimulus Class Formation in Children and Adults
Monday, May 28, 2018
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, San Diego Ballroom C
Area: EAB/VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Danielle LaFrance (H.O.P.E. Consulting, LLC; Endicott College - Institute for Behavioral Studies)
Discussant: Carol Pilgrim (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
CE Instructor: Danielle LaFrance, M.S.

This symposium presents four basic and translational studies on naming and the effects of naming on stimulus class formation, seeking shed light on the relationship between speaker and listener behavior, and on the involvement of verbal behavior in human equivalence class formation. The first study focused on the acquisition of bidirectional speaker and listener relations, and found a greater degree of transfer from speaker to listener than from listener to speaker relations in typically developing children and one child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The second study examined the effects of common and intraverbal naming on equivalence class formation in kindergarten-age children who failed to demonstrate equivalence prior to learning to name the stimuli. The third study similarly investigated the effects of intraverbal naming on the acquisition of baseline matching-to-sample relations and equivalence class formation in adults. Finally, the fourth study examined the effects of training sequence on the formation of stimulus classes established via intraverbal naming in adults.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): naming, stimulus equivalence, verbal behavior
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts; scientists; graduate students


Transfer From Listener to Speaker Versus Transfer From Speaker to Listener

HANNE AUGLAND (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), Tonje Eidshaug (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), Svein Eikeseth (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), Sigmund Eldevik (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)

Most Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention-manuals state that listener behavior should be mastered before training a tact repertoire. This is due partly to how typically developed children's repertoire normally develops. To date, however, only a few studies have examined this question and the results have been somewhat mixed. Participants were one child with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) aged 5 years and 11 months and 4 typical children between the age of 2 and 3 years. Using an alternating treatment design three stimuli were trained as listener behavior alternated with three stimuli trained as impure tacts. After mastering one of the conditions, transfer to the other condition were tested under extinction. The child with ASD mastered impure tacts quicker than listener behavior, as did two of the four typically developing children. All five children showed higher degree of transfer from impure tacts to listener behavior as compared to transfer from listener behavior to impure tacts. Results suggest that transfer from impure tacts to listener behavior occurs more often that transfer from listener behavior to impure tacts. Moreover, impure tacts can be acquired without first having learned to respond to the stimuli tacted as a listener.


The Role of Naming in Equivalence Class Formation

GURO DUNVOLL (Oslo and Akershus University College), Erik Arntzen (Oslo and Akershus University College)

Among others, Murray Sidman has discussed the role of naming in equivalence class formation in his book Equivalence Relations and Behavior. A Research Story. There are still disagreements about how important naming is in equivalence class formation. We asked the following research questions: Do kindergarten children form equivalence classes without any training in naming the stimuli on beforehand? Do preliminary training with homogeneous/common or heterogeneous/intraverbal naming lead to different outcome tests for equivalence class formation? In the present experiment three children aged around four years old were trained to establish six conditional discriminations in a matching to sample (MTS) format and tested for forming three 3-member classes. If failing to establish the first relation within 600 trials, they were trained in intraverbal and common naming before conducting the MTS procedure again. One child established the first relation within 600 trials and responded in accordance with stimulus equivalence (see Table 1). The two other children conducted the MTS with naming, both conditions in reversed order. The results showed that the child starting with heterogeneous naming did not respond in accordance with stimulus equivalence in this condition, but did so in the homogeneous condition. The other child starting with homogeneous naming responded in accordance with stimulus equivalence in both conditions.

The Role of Irrelevant, Class-Consistent, and Class-Inconsistent Intraverbals on the Establishment of Equivalence Classes
Amanda Chastain (California State University, Sacramento), SVEA LOVE (California State University, Sacramento), Shannon Luoma (California State University, Sacramento), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
Abstract: Previous research has shown that equivalence classes may be formed, or at least facilitated by intraverbal relations among stimuli. Therefore, the purpose of Experiment 1 was to assess whether participants’ performance on MTS tasks were differentially affected by learning how to verbally relate the stimuli. In Experiment 1, eight participants were trained on a class-consistent intraverbal phrase (i.e., B1’A1’, C1’A1’) relating three classes of stimuli. Next, participants were exposed to baseline MTS training (e.g., B1A1, C1A1), and tests for emergent relations. All participants were trained on irrelevant intraverbal phrases for a second set, and the rate of acquisition to mastery criterion for baseline MTS relations between sets was assessed and compared. Results indicated that participants required fewer trials to criterion, and made fewer errors when baseline MTS training followed class-consistent intraverbal training. This suggests that training on the intraverbal phrase that corresponded with the correct answers on the baseline MTS tasks facilitated responding. However, results did not demonstrate a difference in responding to tests for emergent relations. It is possible that participants made up their own rules during baseline MTS training when they were not directly taught to verbally relate the stimuli. Therefore, the purpose of Experiment 2 was to compare rates of acquisition of baseline MTS relations, as well as emergence of equivalence classes after class-consistent versus class inconsistent (e.g., B2’A1’, C3’A1’) intraverbal training with eight additional participants. Results replicated the findings of Experiment 1, as participants required fewer trials to criterion, and made fewer errors when baseline MTS training followed class-consistent intraverbal training. Additionally, half of the participants did not demonstrate pass tests for emergent relations, suggesting that the class-inconsistent rule interfered with responding to the MTS tasks.
Effects of Training Sequence on Stimulus Class Formation via Intraverbal Naming
REAGAN ELAINE COX (Texas Christian University), James R. Mellor (Texas Christian University), Courtney McKeon (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: Humans group visual objects together after learning verbal relations between object names. In a typical study, children or adults learn to vocally tact a set of visual stimuli, and then learn vocal intraverbal relations between names of stimuli in an experimenter-defined class. Subsequent matching-to-sample performance is consistent with the emergence of visual stimulus classes in accordance with the trained intraverbals, but it is unclear if this effect depends on mediating behavioral events. Our study followed up on evidence that during intraverbal training, some people may engage in visualization (conditioned or operant seeing) of the stimuli. To examine whether an opportunity to do so affected performance, 32 adults were randomly assigned to a standard group that received tact training before intraverbal training and a reverse group that received intraverbal before tact training. Although the same proportion of participants in both group retained the trained tacts and interverbals throughout testing, a larger proportion of participants in the standard (50%) than in the reverse group (13%) responded with above 80% accuracy on the matching-to-sample test. Experiment 2 will attempt to improve baseline retention in order to minimize variability attributable to poor retention.



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