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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #456
CE Offered: BACB
Convergent Multiple Control and the Role of Verbal Behavior in Recall
Monday, May 30, 2022
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Room 255
Area: VRB/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Juliana Sequeira Cesar de Oliveira (Texas Christian University)
CE Instructor: Juliana Sequeira Cesar de Oliveira, M.S.

The concept of multiple control plays a central role in Skinner’s (1957) Verbal Behavior. It is a powerful concept that can be used to account for complex linguistic and cognitive phenomena, such as novel utterances (as in the famous “no black scorpion” example), humor, problem-solving, and recall. This symposium reports the results of two laboratory studies on convergent multiple control, and a study on improving recall of past events for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Juliana Oliveira presents a demonstration of convergent multiple control following the establishment of divergent multiple control over tacting in a laboratory task with college students. Adrienne Jennings presents another study with college students that examined prerequisites for convergent multiple control over intraverbal responses. Finally, Stephanie Keesey-Phelan presents a study on the effects of reinforcing verbal behavior during an activity or event on later recall of the activity or event.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): multiple control, recall, verbal behavior
Target Audience:

BCBAs, graduate students, researchers. Need to have basic familiarity with Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to (1) define divergent and convergent stimulus control (2) state the four prerequisite skills necessary for convergent intraverbals to emerge (3) describe the effects of verbal behavior emission on later recall
Laboratory Demonstration of Convergent Control in Verbal Behavior
(Basic Research)
JULIANA SEQUEIRA CESAR DE OLIVEIRA (Texas Christian University), Reagan Elaine Cox (Texas Christian University), Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Abstract: Skinner‘s (1957) analysis of verbal behavior relied heavily on the concept of multiple control. Convergent multiple control (Michael et al., 2011) exists when two or more stimuli contribute strength to a particular response form. Although such summation of stimulus control is a well-established phenomenon, we are not aware of any demonstrations in the context of the complexities of human verbal behavior, where the two stimuli that contribute strength to the target response may also control numerous other responses (divergent control; Michael et al., 2011). The purpose of the present experiments was to demonstrate convergent stimulus control in a laboratory task with college students. First, divergent tact control was established by each of five elemental graphic stimuli over either two vocal responses or selection of two textual syllables in a match-to-sample task. Thus, each stimulus came to control two response forms or selections, and each response form or syllable selection was also controlled by two different stimuli. A subsequent test under extinction sought to demonstrate convergent control by combining stimulus elements into compounds. Pilot data indicated that in the selection-based version of the task trials with compound stimuli primarily occasioned selection of syllables related to both elements of each compound.
An Evaluation of Prerequisite Skills to Establish Multiply Controlled Responses
(Basic Research)
ADRIENNE JENNINGS (Caldwell University), Jason C. Vladescu (Caldwell University), Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento), Kenneth F. Reeve (Caldwell University), Tina Sidener (Caldwell University)
Abstract: Researchers studying acquisition of verbal behavior have begun to investigate skills that may serve as prerequisites for multiply controlled verbal behavior. These investigations often involve intraverbals. Recently, DeSouza et al. (2019) created a training sequence of potential prerequisite skills to facilitate emergent convergent intraverbals in 4 children with autism spectrum disorder. This sequence consisted of multiple tact, multiple listener, intraverbal categorization, and listener compound discrimination. Emergent convergent intraverbals were only observed after participants demonstrated mastery of listener compound discrimination. More research is needed to determine whether training of each skill is necessary. The purpose of Experiment 1 was to systematically replicate the procedures used by DeSouza et al. with adult participants using a multiple probe design. Results support the efficacy of the procedures, yet the amount of training required varied across participants. In Experiment 2, probes for all skills were conducted following convergent intraverbal probes to determine whether prerequisite skills were absent when convergent intraverbal failures occurred and present when they emerged. Preliminary results show convergent intraverbals only emerge when proficiency of each prerequisite skill is demonstrated.

The Effects of Reinforcing Tacting on the Recall of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

(Applied Research)
STEPHANIE KEESEY-PHELAN (The Dog Behavior Institute), Judah B. Axe (Simmons University)

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit deficits in social communication and conversation skills, including recalling past events. We evaluated the impact of reinforcing verbal behavior during a session on the recall of events from that session. In Experiment 1, in a multielement design, 5 participants with ASD viewed PowerPoint slides with black and white stick figures engaging in actions. While viewing the pictures, the three conditions were: (1) no requirements (i.e., looking quietly), (2) reinforcement of tacting each picture, and (3) reinforcement of repeating auditorily presented letters and numbers (i.e., a blocking procedure). When asked to recall the pictures 10 min later, 4 out of 5 participants emitted the most statements in the tacting condition; 2 of the participants needed added reinforcement of tacts for this outcome. In Experiment 2, in a multiple probe design across participants, tacts and intraverbals were reinforced with 3 participants with ASD during 5-min activities (e.g., board game). When asked to recall events from the activity 50 min later, 2 out of 3 participants emitted more statements compared to baseline. For the third participant, we identified reinforcement conditions affecting responding. These results suggest that reinforcing verbal behavior during an activity may facilitate recall.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh