UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Discrimination and Reversal Learning by Toddlers Aged 15-23 Months

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center; Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Child Psychology | Cognitive Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Psychology


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.

DOI of Published Version



de Sousa NM, Gil MS, McIlvane WJ. Discrimination and Reversal Learning by Toddlers Aged 15-23 Months. Psychol Rec. 2015 Mar;65(1):41-47. PubMed PMID: 25663716; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4314722. Link to article on publisher's site

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Link to Article in PubMed

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The Psychological record

PubMed ID