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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #406
Incidental Naming in Children and Adults: Conceptual, Procedural and Empirical Issues
Monday, May 27, 2024
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 111 AB
Area: VRB/DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Maithri Sivaraman (Teachers College of Columbia University)
Discussant: R. Douglas Greer (Professor Emeritus Columbia University Teachers College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
CE Instructor: Maithri Sivaraman, Ph.D.
Abstract: Children demonstrate learning the names of things as a listener and speaker simply as a function of observation. The mechanisms that facilitate the emergence of novel listener and speaker responses without programmed reinforcement has captured the interest of behavior analysts across theoretical perspectives. The authors of Study 1 will provide an overview of the current literature and highlight procedural considerations to test incidental naming. The authors will discuss critical test variables based on previous data collected with toddlers. Study 2 will evaluate the impact of delays during object-name presentations on incidental naming in adults. The authors will highlight the role of contextual cues during a naming experience. The authors of Study 3 will present data on how linguistic and paralinguistic cues impact naming responses in 3- to 4-year-old typically-developing children. The role of joint attention and orienting responses will be discussed. The authors of Study 4 will present data on the asymmetry between emergent listener and speaker responses in 5- to 6-year-old children. Specifically, the impact of having response options available during a trial will be highlighted. Finally, Douglas Greer will discuss these studies in relation to verbal behavior development, and highlight implications for education.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): incidental naming
Target Audience: Intermediate
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Define incidental naming and describe one method to test this repertoire 2. Define a naming experience and list the contextual cues presented during a naming experience 3. Describe the types of trials (e.g., listener trial, speaker trials) used to test emergent naming responses

Incidental Naming: Why It Is Important and Why We Need to Collaborate

MAITHRI SIVARAMAN (Teachers College of Columbia University), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (Ulster University)

Once children begin to learn names incidentally, studies have shown that they learn faster and in new ways that catalyze their verbal development. This has led some researchers to call incidental naming a verbal developmental cusp and emphasize its critical role in teaching language to young children, particularly those with developmental delays. However, the conceptual debate surrounding naming, and the variability in testing and training strategies mean that incidental naming is currently being studied by only a handful of laboratories and classrooms around the world. The lack of clear recommendations regarding the critical variables in incidental naming may further discourage clinicians and applied researchers from approaching this topic. In my talk, I will highlight key challenges in the literature specifically with respect to naming tests, proffer potential solutions, and describe why practitioners and applied-researchers should care about incidental naming. I will also highlight examples of researchers studying concepts functionally similar to incidental naming but using other terminology and advocate for more collaboration between these perspectives.


Analyzing the Impact of Name-Object and Object-Name Delays With Other Contextual Cues on Derived Naming

(Basic Research)
AMANDA GILMORE (Ulster University), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (Ulster University), Maithri Sivaraman (Teachers College of Columbia University, USA; Tendrils Centre for Autism, India), Julian C. Leslie (Ulster University)

The current study focused on identifying the behavioural processes that are involved when children learn to name objects by employing the non-simultaneous naming procedure, similar to that used by Sivaraman et al. (2021). Only one published study has used this procedure with children, who were all typically developing toddler participants, but no research has been conducted with adults. Additionally, the current study explored the potential impact of specific relational contextual cues for naming, including pointing, mutual eye gaze, and linguistic terms (e.g., “this is a”). The study thus sought to determine the relative impact of these relational cues on the learning of novel names in human adult participants. In other words, would the learning of specific novel names be impacted negatively when these typical naming cues are absent? Preliminary findings from two of four conditions indicate that such relational cues do indeed play an important role in naming. Overall, the results of this work may inform other research in terms of highlighting the potential importance of contextual cues when adults and indeed children are learning to name.

Three Contextual Cues and Their Impact on Naming in Children
(Applied Research)
NADINE LORNA HEMPKIN (Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Special Education Operated by The New England Center For Children and Ulster University), Dermot Barnes-Holmes (Ulster University), Maithri Sivaraman (Teachers College of Columbia University, USA)
Abstract: Children seem to learn the names of objects incidentally, that is, without direct instruction. A number of contextual cues have been deemed to be important in the development of naming, such as joint attention and orientating towards stimuli, pointing, relational terms (e.g., “this is”) and contiguous stimulus-sound presentations. However, these cues have either very limited systematic investigation, or none at all. The current study aimed to begin an analysis of the role that these antecedent stimuli (e.g., speaker orientation to stimuli and child, pointing, relational terms) may have in naming experiences in three typically developing toddlers who demonstrated naming skills. All three participants took part in a series of naming tests with and without cues using an ABABA reversal design. Results of P1 and P2 indicate clear differences in naming when tests were presented with and without cues. Specifically, participants seem to perform better during tests with cues compared to tests without cues. Further research on the impact of cues presented during naming experiences seems warranted.
Effects of Test Format on Emergent Tact and Listener Relations
(Basic Research)
ANNA INGEBORG PETURSDOTTIR (University of Nevada, Reno), Juliana Oliveira (Munroe Meyer Institute), Reagan Elaine Cox (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: Establishment of tact relations is more likely to generate emergent listener responding than establishment of listener relations to generate tact control. The present study explored the contribution of differences in test format to this asymmetry: Listener relations are typically tested with response options to select from, whereas tact relations are not. Participants were 5- and 6-year-old children of typical development; 5 children participated in Experiment 1 and 4 in Experiment 2. A multiple-probe design was employed to evaluate the effects of test format on emergent tact (Experiment 1) and listener (Experiment 2) relations. In Experiment 1, participants were taught 6 novel listener relations via prompt delay and differential reinforcement. Emergent tact relations were probed first in the absence and then in the presence of three vocally presented response options. In Experiment 2, tact relations were taught and listener relations in the form of drawing then probed in the presence and absence of visually presented response options. In both experiments, participants who made few correct responses without response options performed with perfect or near-perfect accuracy when response options were presented. Implications for bidirectional naming are discussed.



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