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 #493
CE Offered: BACB
Investigations of Higher Order Verbal Behavior: Modifications to Relational Training Procedures to Promote Derived Relational Responding
Monday, May 25, 2020
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Room 201
Area: AUT/PCH; Domain: Translational
Chair: Daniel Howell (Arizona State University Department of Psychology)
CE Instructor: Becky Barron, M.S.

Derived relational responding (DRR) has a seat at the operant table. The present symposium seeks to extend the reach of DRR and relational training procedures to populations not often targeted using methods not often implemented. First, we explore relational training efforts within an elderly population and discuss implications of DRR as it relates to neuroplasticity. Second, we discuss the novel ocular observing responses and their relation to DRR. Finally, we take an inside look to PEAK-Life by exploring both basic and applied implications of its pending release.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): DRR, Gerontology, PEAK, Relational Training
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: -attendees will be able to explain derived relational responding as it relates to ocular responding -attendees will be able to explain derived relational responding in the context of gerontology and DRR implications to dementia -attendees will understand the overarching nature of derived relational responding across age ranges as evidenced by basic and applied research

Evaluating the Effects of Relational Training Procedures on Dementia Severity and Memory in Older Adults

(Applied Research)
AYLA SCHMICK (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)

As the Baby Boomer Generation ages, the number of individuals affected by dementia and cognitive decline will increase dramatically.As these rates climb and no cure in site, interventions are needed to help aid in the wide-ranging impact dementia will have.Relational Frame Theory (RFT), a contemporary behavior-analytic account of complex human language and cognition, offers an avenue to develop interventions designed to strengthen behaviors conventionally regarded as memory.The current study aimed to evaluate the effect of a set of procedures based on RFT for dementia severity and memory. Experimenters obtained pre-training and post-training performances by administering the M-ACE and WISC-IV memory tests to a control group and an intervention group. Following pre-training assessment, the intervention group was exposed to a series of relational training phases, in which the participants were required to respond in accordance with arbitrarily applicable relational responding across a series of relational tasks. Following training the participants in the intervention group showed improvement in memory and a decrease in dementia severity, whereas those in the control group did not. This studyaddsto the growing literature supporting the use of RFT-based interventions to address those areas of concern for individuals affected by dementia and cognitive decline.

The relationship between ocular observing responses and relational training procedures for children with autism spectrum disorder
(Applied Research)
BECKY BARRON (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Current research has shown differences in eye gaze, or ocular observing responses amongst individuals with autism spectrum disorder compared with their typically developing counterparts. Eye gaze is currently studied as a predictor for ASD diagnoses or potential level of social deficits for individuals already diagnosed. Deficits in language and communication are also studied as risk factors and are often attributed to social deficits in ASD. Previous research has shown improvements in accurate eye gaze during the development of stimulus equivalence classes for typically developing adults (Hansen & Arntzen, 2018). Relational training procedures that promote derived stimulus relations have also been shown to improve language repertoires for children with ASD. By combining the technology available for understanding complex language processes and eye gaze behaviors, behavior analysts may be able to better understand how to target specific behaviors in treatment that may indirectly improve eye gaze, and in turn also improve behaviors related to social interaction and attention. The current study investigated the relationship between accurate eye gaze towards stimuli during task demands and relational repertoires with children with ASD, as well as the impact that relational training has on accurate eye gaze when presented with social stimuli. Preliminary results from the current study suggest a strong relationship between appropriate eye gaze and derived relational abilities that may have implication for treatment choices for behavior analysts.
From Basic Research to Applied Intervention: A Pilot Study on PEAK Life
(Applied Research)
ZHIHUI YI (Southern Illinois University), Ayla Schmick (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Kwadwo O. Britwum (Southern Illinois University), Kait Matson (ABA of Illinois), Imran A. Khan (ABA of Illinois)
Abstract: Behavioral goals or objectives in applied settings often include tasks that are composed of behavior chains consisting of a sequence of complex stimulus-response chains. Many teaching strategies available, however, do not always reliably foster effective skill acquisition of those steps that are particularly challenging in these behavior chains. The current study first investigated the effect of relational training on these steps, using a randomized controlled trial design with 30 typical-developing participants in an analog 6-step stimuli discrimination task. Results showed that relational training could effectively improve participants’ performance. Building upon this finding, we investigated the utility of the relational-training based life skill assessment and treatment program – PEAK Life. 43 participants with Autism completed the Vocational and Functional Skill Assessment. Results indicated that the assessment outlined in PEAK Life was able to detect skill deficits among all participants. Three participants from study two was exposed to further life skill trainings. After probing their mastery levels, relational trainings were conducted on those steps that they could not complete independently. Results showed that all participants showed significant improvement on behavior chains following the relational training. The implication and limitation will be discussed.



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