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Discrimination and Reversal Learning by Toddlers Aged 15-23 Months

Abstract

Few studies have investigated simple discrimination and discrimination reversal learning by children younger than 2 years. Extant research has shown that teaching discrimination reversals may be challenging with this population. We used social reinforcement and correction procedures to teach simple simultaneous discrimination and discrimination reversal tasks involving three pairs of animal pictures displayed in a paper notebook. Participants were eight typically developing toddlers aged 15-23 months. All learned at least one simple discrimination/discrimination reversal problem. Four children learned all problems and showed evidence of learning set formation. Perhaps surprisingly, discrimination reversals were sometimes learned more rapidly than original discriminations. The procedures suggest a potentially efficient methodology for investigating more complex aspects of relational learning in toddlers.

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Correspondence to Naiara Minto de Sousa.

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Author Note

This research was supported by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP; Doctoral scholarship #10/15602-8 to the first author). This report is based on a study from the doctoral’s dissertation submitted by the first author to the Graduate Program in Psychology, Universidade Federal de São Carlos. The study was part of the research program of Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia sobre Comportamento, Cognição e Ensino, supported by grants from CNPq (Grant # 573972/2008-7) and FAPESP (Grant # 08/57705-8). participation was additionally supported by NIH grants HD04147 and MH90272 and by the Commonwealth Medicine Division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. A previous version of these data was presented at the Sixth Conference of the European Association for Behavior Analysis, Lisbon, Portugal, September, 2012. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments that greatly improved the manuscript.

For additional information about the study or reprint requests, contact either Naiara Minto de Sousa or Maria Stella C. A. Gil, Laboratório de Interação Social, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Rodovia Washington, Luiz (SP-310), Km 235, 13565-905, São Carlos – SP, Brazil (e-mail: naiaraminto@bol.com.br; mscagil@ufscar.br).

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Minto de Sousa, N., Gil, M.S.C.d.A. & McIlvane, W.J. Discrimination and Reversal Learning by Toddlers Aged 15-23 Months. Psychol Rec 65, 41–47 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-014-0084-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40732-014-0084-1

Keywords

  • Simple discrimination
  • Discrimination reversal
  • Toddlers