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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Paper Session #90
Topics in Verbal Behavior
Monday, September 30, 2019
11:30 AM–12:20 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 6, A2
Area: VRB
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Rodrigo Dal Ben (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)
Looking Out the Window and Back Inside: A Behavioral Explanation of Early Speech Perception
Domain: Theory
RODRIGO DAL BEN (Universidade Federal de São Carlos), Débora Souza (Universidade Federal de São Carlos)
Abstract: Cognitive researchers have studied early speech perception extensively. Although their data reveal several contingencies involved in early verbal development, the theoretical explanations provided usually contain non-falsifiable constructs, such as cognitive agents. Falsifiable behavioral explanations, based on reflex and operant principles, may offer a more parsimonious alternative. However, explicit consequences for speech perception are usually absent in experimental designs employed by cognitivists and those conducted in natural environments. Automatic reinforcement/consequences are commonly invoked to fill this important gap. Although it may be a more parsimonious heuristic, the falsifiable line that distinguishes its use as a hypothetical construct from an oxymoron can be blurred. Here we analyze previous studies to show that conceptual and practical criteria should be followed for a proper use of automatic consequences as part of a behavioral explanation of verbal development. Conceptually, explicit descriptions of antecedents and of potentially testable relations between responses and assumed consequences should be provided. Practically, its use should promote empirical research on contingencies that establishes explicit consequences as automatic ones, which may require innovative research designs to put the behavior under the microscope. Adhering to these criteria may provide a more complete understanding of speech perception and verbal development.
Teaching Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Intraverbal Responses About the Past
Domain: Applied Research
JEANNE STEPHANIE GONZALEZ (Johanna McDonald, LLC), Sarah Slocum (Marcus Autism Center and Emory School of Medicine)
Abstract: Research has demonstrated that responding to questions regarding past events is a developmental milestone typically reached by age three or four. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) might struggle with this skill in comparison to their neurotypical peers. This study describes a methodology for teaching subjects with ASD intraverbal responses about past events by systematically increasing delays between the presentation of target stimuli and the delivery of a question about the target stimuli. Probes of the terminal delay were conducted after each successive increase in delay. Results showed both subjects successfully responded to questions after a 30-min delay following some level of treatment. This study demonstrated an effective method for teaching intraverbal responses describing past events. More research is needed to replicate these results, study different methods for teaching this skill, and test theoretical mechanisms for remembering.



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