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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #164
CE Offered: BACB
Verbal Behavior: Experimental Evaluations and Conceptual Analyses
Sunday, May 27, 2007
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Elizabeth B
Area: VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Barbara E. Esch (Esch Behavior Consultants, Inc.)
CE Instructor: Barbara E. Esch, None

This symposium presents two empirical studies and two conceptual papers on issues related to Skinners analysis of verbal behavior. Results are presented for (1) an investigation of procedural modifications of the stimulus-stimulus pairing procedure and the role of automatic reinforcement in establishing speech as a conditioned reinforcer and (2) a study on generalization of mands for information across establishing operations. A third paper presents a behavioral interpretation of the etiology and intervention for aphasia by providing a taxonomy of the disorder based upon observed deficit relations. The final paper discusses transfer of stimulus control across verbal operants, reviews variables that increase procedural efficiency, and concludes with a discussion of stimulus blocking and multiple control.

The Role of Automatic Reinforcement in Early Speech Acquisition.
BARBARA E. ESCH (Esch Behavior Consultants, Inc.), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University), Laura L. Grow (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Children who emit few speech vocalizations and whose echoic repertoires are weak are at an instructional disadvantage for speech acquisition. Stimulus-stimulus pairing (SSP) has been shown to produce temporary increases, possibly attributable to automatic reinforcement, in post-pairing vocalizations (e.g., Yoon & Bennett, 2000), thus allowing subsequent direct reinforcement of these responses as verbal operants. Although the behavioral principles supporting an automatic reinforcement role in SSP are well established, empirical support for SSP is not robust (e.g., Esch, Carr, & Michael, 2005; Miguel, Carr, & Michael, 2002), calling into question the ability of SSP to establish speech as a conditioned reinforcer. This study presents empirical results of SSP procedural modifications that produced increases in within-session vocalizations that were subsequently directly reinforced as mands. The separate and combined contributions of these modifications are discussed in the context of the role of automatic reinforcement of speech responses.
Generalization of Mands for Information across Establishing Operations.
SARAH A. LECHAGO (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University), Laura L. Grow (Western Michigan University), Jessa R. Love (Western Michigan University), Season Almason (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Children diagnosed with autism display significant impairments in communication, which can range from the total absence of vocal behavior to nonfunctional vocal behavior (e.g., echolalia). Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior articulates a number of operants, each under the control of a specific array of stimuli. The mand is verbal behavior under the control of the relevant establishing operation and which specifies its own reinforcer. For example, water deprivation serves as a relevant establishing operation for the mand for water. The state of water deprivation specifies water as the reinforcer. The ability to mand is important to an individual’s development for learning the names of stimuli and individuals, more effective interaction with the environment, and appropriate social interactions with others. This study seeks to extend the developing literature on teaching mands by systematically assessing whether they will generalize across different establishing operations. Each participant was taught to perform three behavior chains which all included a common response form (“Where is the cup?”) used for different purposes. An interrupted behavior chain procedure was used to contrive a different establishing operation for each. After a mand was taught during one interrupted chain, the remaining chains were interrupted to determine whether the mand generalized across different establishing operations. Data will be presented for mands for objects, as well as mands for information.
Conceptualizing Aphasia Using a Behavior Analytic Model.
JONATHAN C. BAKER (Western Michigan University), Linda A. LeBlanc (Western Michigan University), Paige Raetz (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Aphasia is an acquired language impairment that affects over 2 million individuals, the majority of whom are over age 65 (Groher, 1989). This disorder has typically been conceptualized within a cognitive neuroscience framework, but a behavioral interpretation of the etiology and intervention for aphasia is also possible. Skinner’s (1957) book, Verbal Behavior, proposes a framework of verbal operants that we combine with Sidman’s work on stimulus equivalence in aphasia research to describe the language difficulties individuals with aphasia experience. Using this combination of models, we propose a new taxonomy of aphasia based on the observed deficit relations (i.e., stimulus/stimulus, stimulus/response, and response/response). Treatment implications based on this new taxonomy are discussed.
Transfer of Stimulus Control and Verbal Behavior.
TRACI M. CIHON (The Ohio State University)
Abstract: Transfer of stimulus control can be used to establish a response under new stimulus control after it has been brought under discriminative control. This has been used as a mechanism for establishing verbal behavior under new sources of stimulus control. This paper reviews the basic research on transfer of stimulus control, noting the variables that increase the efficiency of the procedures. Articles that focus on transfer of stimulus control across verbal operants are emphasized. The review concludes with a discussion of stimulus blocking, multiple control, and suggestions for future research.



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