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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Paper Session #36
Int'l Paper Session - Equivalence I
Saturday, May 28, 2005
2:30 PM–3:20 PM
Boulevard A (2nd floor)
Area: EAB
Chair: Brian J. Cowley (Park University)
Contingency Class Formation in Low-Functioning Autistic Children
Domain: Basic Research
KAREN M. LIONELLO-DENOLF (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School), Romariz Barros (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School), William J. McIlvane (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Abstract: This project investigated whether low-functioning, non-verbal autistic children (MA < 2 years) would show evidence of contingency class formation. Training took place in the automated teaching lab, a unique teaching environment developed to provide a solitary, non-social, distraction-free environment for learning that was originally developed by Larry Stoddard. The lab includes a wall on which are mounted 3 compartments for stimulus presentation, food and token wells for reinforcer delivery, and token slots for token exchange. Seven autistic children were trained on a simultaneous discrimination with 2 stimuli prior to training a contingency reversal. Discrimination reversals were trained separately for a total of 3 stimulus sets. All discriminations were then combined and each participant was given a series of reinforcement contingency reversals. If the positive (i.e., reinforced) stimuli (and the negative stimuli) from each discrimination had formed a distinct class, then in the reversal, after experiencing that the former S+ is now an S-, the children should reverse their choices for the remaining stimulus sets. Data from several of the children suggest the formation of contingency classes. This implies the existence of symbolic behavior in a population not usually thought to possess it.
Response to Response Combinatorial Entailment
Domain: Basic Research
BRIAN J. COWLEY (Park University), Jessica Jensen (Park University), Cheryl A. Cowley (Park University)
Abstract: Abstract words were trained to abstract stimuli to an undergraduate college student. One response from each class of words was trained to the new abstract stimuli. Generalization tests were conducted to see if the other stimuli not directly trained to the second stimuli would be used in the presence of that stimulus by class. New abstract words were trained to a new set of abstract stimuli. One of these new abstract words were trained directly to one of the previous abtract words. Generalization of untrained words was tested with the new abstract stimuli. This generalization occurred. This suggested combinatorial entailment by relationship between responses.



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