The Psychological Record

, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 549–562 | Cite as

The Effects of Multiple Exemplar Training on a Working Memory Task Involving Sequential Responding in Children With Autism

  • Lisa Baltruschat
  • Marcus Hasselhorn
  • Jonathan TarboxEmail author
  • Dennis R. Dixon
  • Adel Najdowski
  • Ryan David Mullins
  • Evelyn Gould


This study is part of a programmatic line of research into the use of basic positive reinforcement procedures for improving working memory in children with autism spectrum disorders. The authors evaluated the effects of multiple exemplar training, utilizing positive reinforcement, on performance of a “digit span backwards” task—a test of working memory that entails sequential relational responding. All three participants showed improved performance on directly trained stimuli as well as maintenance and generalization to untrained stimuli. The results provide further support for the general hypothesis that performance on working memory tasks is amenable to improvement via behavioral intervention and has implications for treating such tasks as relational operants. Implications for future research and the development of clinical interventions are discussed.

Key words

autism working memory executive function positive reinforcement relational frame theory relational responding 


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Baltruschat
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marcus Hasselhorn
    • 3
  • Jonathan Tarbox
    • 4
    Email author
  • Dennis R. Dixon
    • 4
  • Adel Najdowski
    • 4
  • Ryan David Mullins
    • 4
  • Evelyn Gould
    • 4
  1. 1.Center of Research on Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk (IDeA)Frankfurt am MainFrance
  2. 2.Center for Autism and Related DisordersFrance
  3. 3.Center of Research on Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk (IDeA)German Institute for International Educational ResearchFrankfurt am MainFrance
  4. 4.Center for Autism and Related DisordersTarzanaUSA

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