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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Symposium #254
Methodological Innovations in the Study of Equivalence Relations
Sunday, May 26, 2019
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Swissôtel, Concourse Level, Zurich BC
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Haven Sierra Niland (University of North Texas)
Discussant: Richard W. Serna (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

This symposium presents four papers using methodological variations to ask new and interesting questions about stimulus control and equivalence relations and their role in the organization of complex behavior. The first paper, by Dunvoll et al. examines the differences in N400 peaks when unrelated familiar and unfamiliar stimuli are presented during equivalence testing. When compared, the results indicate no difference in N400 peaks. The second paper, by Braaten and Arntzen, explores whether participants are able do discriminate between stimuli of a variety of sizes when presented in the periphery of a matching-to-sample task. The results show a significant difference in participant’s ability to discriminate stimuli of difference sizes and positions. The third paper, by Niland and Vaidya, examines the effects of common reinforcers on the emergence of simple discriminations. The results indicate differences in performance across the two arrangements and are related to Sidman’s theory of equivalence. The final paper, by Luc and Vaidya, asks whether the Stroop effect is produced by conflicts among stimulus classes by training stimulus-stimulus relations using equivalence procedures and using a go/no-go task so measure responding to congruent and incongruent combinations. Results replicated findings in Stroop literature which demonstrate slower reaction times to incongruent stimuli.

Instruction Level: Intermediate

Equivalence Class Formation, N400 and Autism Spectrum: The Role of Meaningful Stimuli in Unrelated Stimulus Pair

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

Research has demonstrated that equivalence class formation is reflected in the electrophysiological (EEG) component N400. Stimulus pair related through symmetry and transitivity/equivalence do not produce a negativity at 400 ms after stimuli presentation while unrelated do. In the current experiment, 6 adults with high function autism participated. They were trained in 6 conditional discriminations with C-stimuli as meaningful before a priming test with EEG-measures. Here related and unrelated stimulus pairs were presented, symmetry relations and half of the unrelated consisted of stimuli with one meaningful picture. The results show that the transitivity/equivalence pairs produced a greater peak in the N400 than symmetry pair (see Figure 1). The unrelated stimulus pair with familiar stimuli produced a N400 similar to the unrelated stimulus pair without familiar stimuli. The conclusion is that meaningful stimuli in itself did not produce a change in the N400 component.


Peripheral Vision in Matching-to-Sample Procedures

Live Braaten (Oslo Metropolitan University), ERIK ARNTZEN (Oslo Metropolitan University)

In visual search, peripheral vision plays an important role. The present experiment investigated to what extent participants attends to stimuli that vary in size and positions in the periphery. Participants were taught eight conditional discriminations. In the test conditions, four stimuli sizes and three stimuli positions were manipulated in 12 blocks, 24 trials each. In the test trials, participants had to fixate their gaze on the sample while selecting a comparison stimulus. Eye movements were measured with a head-mounted eye-tracker. In Experiment 1, arbitrary relations were trained and tested. In Experiment, 2 participants were exposed to identity matching of abstract stimuli, and in Experiment 3 participants were exposed to identity matching of simple shapes. Initial results show that participants in Experiments 1 and 2, discriminated between abstract stimuli in the periphery when they were 0.7 cm or larger. If stimuli were 0.7 cm and more than 12 cm from the fixation point, discrimination ceased. Participants were unable to discriminate stimuli that were 0.3 cm regardless of position. When stimuli were simple, participants discriminated stimuli as small as 0.3 cm when they were 6 cm and 12 cm from the sample position but when the distance was 18 cm discrimination decrease.

The Effects of Common and Uncommon Reinforcer Arrangements on the Emergence of Simple Discriminations
HAVEN SIERRA NILAND (University of North Texas), Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)
Abstract: A computerized program was designed to test whether arrangements of common and uncommon reinforcers among two two-term correlations (stimulus-reinforcer and response-reinforcer) resulted in emergent simple discriminations with eight adult human participants. Data from this experiment indicates that common reinforcer arrangements resulted in high rates of responding in the presence of the putative discriminative stimulus and relatively low rates or no responding in the presence of the putative s-delta during testing in extinction. Conversely, uncommon reinforcer arrangements resulted in low rates of responding with no stimuli acquiring any clear discriminative control. The current data reflect a comparison of arrangements across subjects. However, future research aims to compare the two arrangements within subject. These data extend the discussion of how and why some stimuli acquire discriminative function and provide some evidence for Sidman’s (2000) theory of stimulus equivalence which suggests that all positive elements in the contingency fall into the equivalence class. Finally, these data may warrant a reconsideration of popular reinforcement procedures in applied practice.
The Stroop Effect as Interactions Between Stimulus Classes
OANH LUC (University of North Texas), Manish Vaidya (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Participants demonstrate the Stroop effect when, in naming the color in which a word appears, reaction times are longer when the color and word are incongruent (e.g., yellow printed in blue) compared to when they are congruent (e.g., yellow printed in yellow). This study asks whether the Stroop effect is due to conflict among stimulus classes. On a computer program, adult participants underwent a match-to-sample procedure to establish three, three-member classes (color, nonsense word, and pattern) in a serialized order of training. Like the Stroop test, participants were tested in a go/no-go procedure with compound stimuli from within classes, between classes, and from the unattached set. Results show that participants accurately and most quickly respond to compound stimuli within the same class, compared to compound stimuli formed with members from different classes. These data are consistent with the Stroop effect in that congruent compounds produce faster reaction times relative to incongruent compounds. The presentation will consider whether other instances of the Stroop effect are interpretable in terms of conflict or cohesion of stimulus class elements in tested compounds.



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