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.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #87
CE Offered: BACB
Variables Influencing Equivalence Class Formation and Additional Measurements
Saturday, September 3, 2022
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Meeting Level 2; Wicklow Hall 2A
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Erik Arntzen (Oslo Metropolitan University)
Discussant: Julio C. De Rose (Universidade Federal de Sao Carlos)
CE Instructor: Erik Arntzen, Ph.D.

Previous research has shown that forming both immediate and delayed emergence of equivalence classes could be influenced by different variables. Papers in the present symposium will discuss such variables and present some additional measurements, as event-related potentials and eye movements. In the first presentation, Granerud, Arntzen, Elvsåshagen, Hatlestad, and Malt describe and discuss the results of a study in which event-related potential (ERP) N400 has been included as an additional measurement. In the second presentation, Braaten and Arntzen outline the results of a study using eye-tracking equipment when training and testing conditional discriminations. In the third presentation, Lian and Arntzen show how it is possible to analyze how the arrangement of different types of trials test could influence delayed emergence. Finally, Ayres-Pereira and Arntzen present a study in which the discriminability of different stimuli is essential for inclusion in equivalence classes. In the first presentation, adults with high functioning autism and adults without any known diagnosis participated. In the three other presentations, university students served as participants.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): event-related potentials, eye movements, stimulus equivalence
Target Audience:

Basic skills about emergent relations.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able: (1) to know how test trials could be arranged and influence the outcome on emergent relations (2) to know how N400 effects are measured and event-relational potentials are (3) to know how eye movements differ depending on stimulus material presented in an MTS task

Equivalence Class Formation and the N400 Effect

GURO GRANERUD (Oslo Metropolitan University), Erik Arntzen (Oslo Metropolitan University), Torbjørn Elvsåshagen (2Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research, KG Jebsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway), Christoffer Hatlestad-Hall (CHTD research, Division of Clinical Neuroscience, Oslo University Hospital), Eva Malt (3Department of Adult Habilitation, Akershus University Hospital, Akershus, Norway)

A priming procedure can be used to test for relations between stimuli in which a prime stimulus is presented followed by a target stimulus, and the participant is instructed to judge if the stimuli are related or not. Here, the event-related potential (ERP) N400 can be measured as relational strength between the stimuli presented. In the current experiment, we had 36 participants with high functioning autism (HFA) and 40 (2 excluded from priming with images) participants without any known diagnosis. They were all trained to form three 3-member classes in a many-to-one (MTO) training structure with C stimuli as meaningful and A and B stimuli as abstract shapes. One-third of the relations were tested in the MTS format before the rest were tested in a priming procedure. All participants also conducted word priming. The results show that 83,3% of the participants with HFA reached the mastery criteria of 85% both in priming with images and priming with words. In comparison, 81,5% of the participants without known diagnosis reached the mastery criteria of 85% in priming with images and 92,5% in priming with words. N400-data from image- and word priming will also be presented.

Effect of Different Numbers of Meaningful Stimuli on the Establishment of Conditional Discriminations and Emergent Responding
LIVE FAY BRAATEN (Oslo Metropolitan University), Erik Arntzen (Oslo Metropolitan University)
Abstract: The probability of responding in accordance with stimulus equivalence has shown to increase when one meaningful stimulus is included in the stimuli class among abstract stimuli. Usually, experiments investigating the effect of meaningful stimuli have included a single meaningful stimulus in each class and used a linear series training structure when establishing the conditional discriminations. The present experiment aims to investigate how different numbers of meaningful stimuli trained in a one-to-many training structure affect the number of training trials, equivalence class responding, and reaction time. We randomized participants into three groups, each group exposed to 12 conditional discriminations, potentially forming three 5-member stimulus classes. The stimulus set for Groups 1, 2, and 3 consisted of many meaningful stimuli, few meaningful stimuli, and abstract stimuli, respectively. Preliminary results, with 56 participants, show that including few meaningful stimuli is more efficient in establishing the conditional discriminations than many meaningful stimuli and all abstract stimuli. In addition, once participants have established the conditional discriminations, participants trained with many meaningful stimuli, and all abstract stimuli had a higher probability of responding in accordance with stimulus equivalence than the group with few meaningful stimuli.
Analyzing Delayed Emergence of Stimulus Equivalence
TORUNN LIAN (OsloMet), Erik Arntzen (Oslo Metropolitan University)
Abstract: The present study aimed to identify variables that might influence delayed emergence of stimulus equivalence and the specific research questions asked were two-folded. First, we wanted to explore the effects of arranging test for emergent responding with just some of the ordered pairs in potential equivalence relations. Second, we wanted to compare the effects of arranging tests with and without baseline conditional discriminations interspersed with emergent trial types. Participants were assigned eight different test arrangements: (a) t symmetry relations only, (b) transitivity relations only, (c) equivalence relations only, (d) full test, (e) symmetry with baseline relations interspersed, (f) transitivity with baseline relations interspersed, (g) equivalence with baseline relations interspersed, and (h) full test with baseline relations interspersed. Twelve conditional discriminations in three potential five-member classes were trained in a linear series training structure. All baseline relations were introduced in the first training block and all baseline relations were established to criterion before the test for emergent responding. The criterion to conclude that emergent responding had occurred was a minimum of 90% responding in accordance with the experimenter-defined classes. The results show that regardless of test arrangement relatively few participants show delayed emergence. Furthermore, the results show that most participants demonstrated emergent responding in the test for symmetry. Finally, the preliminary results show a slight tendency of more emergent responding when baseline relations are interspersed compared to test without baseline relations. However, the difference is marginal and might not endure when all data are collected.
Discrimination of Highly Similar Stimuli as Members of Different Equivalence Classes via Simultaneous Matching-to-Sample Tasks
Vanessa Ayres Pereira (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), ERIK ARNTZEN (Oslo Metropolitan University)
Abstract: Learning to discriminate physically similar stimuli as members of different classes can be functional in some situations. This study investigated the most effective way to display two pairs of quasi-identical stimuli—as samples and/or comparisons—throughout the training of baseline conditional discriminations, so that participants form three 3-member equivalence classes and learn to discriminate the similar stimuli as members of different equivalence classes. Eighteen adults were trained on arbitrary relations (AB/AC) and a multiple-probe design assessed the maintenance and emergence of relations trained and tested. Participants were exposed to one of six training conditions. Conditions 1, 2, and 5 presented quasi-identical stimuli successively as samples during training. Condition 3 presented quasi-identical stimuli successively as comparisons. Condition 4 presented quasi-identical stimuli simultaneously as comparisons. And Condition 6 presented each pair of quasi-identical stimuli simultaneously as a sample and a comparison. Only Condition 4 produced equivalence class formation in all participants. Conditions 3 and 6 produced failure in equivalence class formation. And Conditions 1, 2, and 5 did not produce baseline learning. The results have implications for discussions on the effects of the training of simultaneous conditional discriminations on the acquisition of simple discriminations.



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