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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #32
CE Offered: BACB
Correspondence Between Relational Responding and Bidirectional Naming as a Verbal Developmental Cusp
Saturday, May 23, 2020
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon C
Area: DEV/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
Discussant: Dermot Barnes-Holmes (Ghent University)
CE Instructor: Dermot Barnes-Holmes, Ph.D.

Growing evidence suggests complementary findings in research on verbal development and relational responding. A large body of research in relational responding demonstrates stimulus control involving complex human behavior and communication including language. Simultaneously, decades of research findings in verbal development and applications identified stimulus control for the range of cusps and how this changes children’s prognosis. This program of research suggests experiential and reinforcement sources of stimulus control that lead to incidental language learning as bidirectional naming (BiN) and the component unidirectional naming (UniN). Another body of research on BiN increasingly points to the presence of BiN as a facilitator of relational responding. We present and discuss two papers whose findings show correlational and functional relations between the presence of and onset of the BiN cusp and arbitrary derived relations (AAR). Each body of research represents extensions of behavior analysis to domains traditionally seen as exclusive properties of cognitive psychology. Findings showing the intercept of stimulus control for these lines of investigation are evidence of a more mature science that promises a bright future for the science of behavior.  

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Intermediate level, behavior scientists,

Learning Objectives: 1. Describe how bidirectional naming is a verbal developmental cusp. 2. Describe the relation between bidirectional naming and other relational frames. 3. Describe how bidirectional naming appears to be a predictor of AAR.

Relations Between the Cusp of Bidirectional Naming and Derived Relations in Preschoolers

(Basic Research)
GEORGETTE MORGAN (Columbia University; Fred S. Keller School), R. Douglas Greer (Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)

Bidirectional Naming and derived relational responding have both commonly been used to explain the accelerated rate in word learning that often occurs within the second to third year of life. However, there has been limited research on how these repertoires may intersect and relate to each other. Across two analyses we evaluated the relation between Bidirectional Naming (BiN) and derived relational responding demonstrated by 31 preschool students with and without diagnoses. Within the first experiment we tested the presence and strength of relations between BiN, arbitrary and non-arbitrary relations which were mutually and combinatorial entailed. Data from the first analysis indicated a strong, significant correlation between participants’ degree of BiN and scores on tests of derived relations. The second analysis compared the mean differences between the establishment of arbitrary unimodal and cross-modal relations for 18 preschool students, selected from participants included within Experiment 1. The data indicated a significant difference for both cross-modal and unimodal derived relations. The obtained results of both experiments have implications for research in how Bidirectional Naming and derived relational responding may lead to learning at accelerated rates and in new ways.

Degrees of Bidirectional Naming and Derived Listener and Speaker Relations
(Basic Research)
FAHEEMA ABDOOL-GHANY (Columbia University and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences), Daniel Mark Fienup (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Abstract: As a child develops new cusps and capabilities, their behavior comes in contact with new contingencies and they can learn in new ways. We examined how degrees of bidirectional (BiN) naming correlated with children’s other derived relations. BiN is the joining of listener and speaker repertoires such that hearing object-name relations produces corresponding speaker and listener behavior. Unidirectional naming (UniN) occurs when this experience produces listener, but not speaker behavior. Students who did not demonstrate listener and speaker components of were classified as having No Incidental Naming (NiN). In an ABAB design, we rotated between two conditions: 1) directly reinforcing speaker (tact) responses and testing for the emergence of listener (point to) responses, and 2) directly reinforcing listener responses and testing for the emergence of speaker responses. Results suggested that participants with BiN readily derived speaker and listener responses, participants with UniN readily derived listener, but not speaker responses, and participants with NiN had difficulty acquiring directly reinforced responses and deriving responses. Our results suggest ways to differentiate instruction for children with different capabilities and have implications for the overlap between verbal behavior and derived relations research areas.



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