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The Evolution of Verbal Behavior in Children

Author(s): R. Douglas Greer | Dolleen-Day Keohane

Journal: Journal of Speech and Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis
ISSN 1932-4731

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 27;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: Verbal Behavior | Verbal Development | Developmental Behavioral Cusps | Verbal Capabilities | Emergent Verbal Behavior | Productive Verbal Behavior

Research guided by Skinner’s verbal behavior in schools using scientific practices provided evidence of a developmental trajectory for “generative” verbal capabilities or behavioral developmentalcusps. The broad verbal developmental fractures include: listener, speaker, speaker-listener, speaker as own listener (self-talk, conversational units and naming), reader, writer, writer as own reader exchanges, and advanced verbal mediation. First, we identified missing verbal capabilities (higher order operants) in children and then induced the pre-and co-requisite repertoires. Once the capabilities were acquired, children could learn new operants and emergent relations. We speculate on the relation of these capabilities to linguistic, neuroscientific, cognitive, and anthropological suppositions concerning the evolution of language function in both an individual’s lifespan and in the species.
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