The Analysis of Verbal Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 85–99 | Cite as

Evaluation of Verbal Behavior in Older Adults

  • Amy C. Gross
  • R. Wayne Fuqua
  • Todd A. Merritt
Research Article


Approximately 5% of older adults have a dementia diagnosis, and language deterioration is commonly associated with this disorder (Kempler, 2005). Several instruments have been developed to diagnose dementia and assess language capabilities of elderly adults. However, none of these instruments take a functional approach to language assessment as described by Skinner (1957). The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate a function-based assessment for language deficits of older adults. Thirty-one participants were categorized into a control group (n = 15) and a dementia group (n = 16) based on their score on the Dementia Rating Scale-2. Individuals with dementia performed significantly worse on the tact assessment than those without dementia. Participants from both groups performed better on measures of tacts than intraverbals or mands, even though topographically identical responses were required in these assessments. The data provide support for Skinner’s conceptualization of functionally independent verbal operants.

Key words

older adults dementia language assessment verbal behavior assessment 


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Copyright information

© Association of Behavior Analysis International 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy C. Gross
    • 1
  • R. Wayne Fuqua
    • 1
  • Todd A. Merritt
    • 1
  1. 1.Pediatric Specialty Care-Discovery ClinicWestern Michigan UniversityMinneapolisUSA

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