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

Previous Page


Symposium #211
Innovative Procedures in the Study of Stimulus Control
Sunday, May 27, 2018
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, San Diego Ballroom C
Area: EAB/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)
Discussant: Yusuke Hayashi (Penn State Hazleton)

Our understanding of the development of simple and conditional discriminations has accelerated over the last two decades because of innovations in the procedures we use to arrange and study behavior-environment interactions. This symposium presents four more examples of innovations in the study of stimulus control. The first paper, by Braaten and Arntzen, describes the development of selective attention during identity matching training with compound stimuli. The results document the development of selective attention under different training conditions. The second paper, by Ayres-Pereira and Arntzen, examines the effects of two different training structures on the development of large (9-member) stimulus equivalence classes. They report that training structures are differentially effective in producing equivalence relations. The third paper, by Niland and Vaidya, asks if common reinforcers in two-term, stimulus-reinforcer and response-reinforcer, arrangements are sufficient to produce emergent simple discriminations. The results are related to Sidman's theory of equivalence relations. Finally, the fourth paper, by Wiist and Vaidya, asks if differential outcome procedures are more or less effective than nondifferential outcomes in establishing audio-visual conditional discriminations in children with diagnoses of ASD. The results are interpreted in terms of Sidman's theory of equivalence relations.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): common reinforcers, compound stimuli, differential outcomes, training structures
On the Role of Compound Stimuli in a Matching-to-Sample Procedure
(Basic Research)
LIVE FAY BRAATEN (Oslo and Akershus University College), Erik Arntzen (Oslo and Akershus University College)
Abstract: Behavior is often guided by compound stimuli. When attributes of discriminative compound stimuli are presented separately failure to respond correctly to both elements may occur. This differential responding can be called selective attention. Present experiments investigate selective attention in humans using compound stimuli. In Experiment 1, 20 participants were trained in a zero second delayed identity matching to sample procedure with four compound stimuli prior to a test. In the test eight stimuli, all aspects of the compound stimuli were presented. Results show that eight participants respond systematically to only one aspect of the initial compound stimuli. In Experiment 2, twenty participants in two groups were trained in the same manner as in Experiment 1. Group 1 was trained with zero second delay and Group 2 with three seconds delay. In the test, each compound element, shape and color, were separated and participants had to respond to the two stimuli in each test trial, one trial per compound stimuli. Results show that six and four participants in Group 1 and 2, respectively, respond systematically to one aspect of the compound stimuli.

Many-to-One Versus One-to-Many: Training Structures and the Emergence of Three 9-Members Equivalence Classes in Adults

(Basic Research)
VANESSA AYRES PEREIRA (Oslo and Akershus University College), Erik Arntzen (Oslo and Akershus University College)

This experiment compared the outcomes of two training structures, One-to-Many (OTM) and Many-to-One (MTO), on the emergence of three 9-member equivalence classes in college students. Forty-two adults participated in the experiment, half of them were exposed to the MTO and the other half to the OTM training structure. Both groups trained 24 baseline relations and were tested for the emergence of 192 derived relations under a simultaneous protocol. The OTM group trained the baseline relations AB, AC, AD, AE, AF, AG, AH, and AI, and the MTO group trained BA, CA, DA, EA, FA, GA, HA, and IA. The test evaluated the emergence of symmetrical and equivalence relations, and the maintenance of baseline relations. All participants responded in accordance with stimulus equivalence, wherein one showed delayed emergence after the MTO and three showed delayed emergence after the OTM training structure. Preliminary analysis did not show significant differences between groups in the average number of trials required to learn the baseline relations, but in the number of correct responses in the test (see Table 1). Participants in the MTO group scored significantly more in equivalence test trials, than participants in the OTM group.


Common Elements in Contingencies Can Facilitate Emergent Simple Discriminations

(Basic Research)
HAVEN SIERRA NILAND (University of North Texas), Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)

By most accounts, a stimulus must be correlated with reinforcement for a response in order for the stimulus to acquire discriminative function; however, sometimes stimuli acquire control over responses which have never been reinforced in their presence. How and why does this occur? Morse and Skinner (1958) demonstrated that a stimulus can acquire some discriminative properties when a response-independent reinforcer is provided in its presence and later that same reinforcer is presented contingent on a specific response in the absence of that stimulus. The purpose of this study is to systematically replicate Morse and Skinner (1958) to explore the possibility of emergent simple discriminations with human subjects. Preliminary data from six subjects indicates that when the stimulus and response share a relation to a common element, response rate and resistance to extinction in the presence of that stimulus is greater than rate and resistance in the presence of a stimulus which does not share a common element with the response. These results lend themselves to a discussion of how and why some stimuli acquire discriminative function and provides some evidence for the argument that reinforcers and responses are members of the equivalence class and can facilitate emergent behavior.


The Effects of Differential Outcomes on Audio-Visual Conditional Discriminations in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Applied Research)
CATHERINE E. WIIST (University of North Texas), Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)

The differential outcomes effect (DOE) refers to an observed increase in rates of acquisition of simple or conditional relations when the contingencies of reinforcement arrange for reinforcers to be uniquely correlated with a particular stimulus or response relative to conditions where the reinforcers are not uniquely correlated with either stimulus or response. This effect has been robustly documented in the literature with nonhuman subjects. This study asked whether the DOE would be observed with children with ASD learning audio-visual conditional relations. Two participants learned two sets of 3 audio-visual conditional relations. For one set, the training conditions arranged for each of the three conditional relations to be uniquely correlated with a particular reinforcing stimulus (hereafter, the DO condition). For the second set, the training conditions arranged for the same reinforcer to be used for all three audio-visual conditional relations (hereafter, the NDO condition). Early results show that audio-visual conditional relations were acquired faster under the DO condition relative to the NDO outcomes condition (accuracy in DO condition was 30.8% higher on average than in NDO condition). These data suggest that differential outcomes should be more thoroughly investigated with children with diagnoses of ASD.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh