Relational learning in children with deafness and cochlear implants

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



*Association Learning; Attention; Child; *Cochlear Implants; *Concept Formation; Deafness; Female; Humans; Language Development; Male; Memory, Short-Term; *Pattern Recognition, Visual; *Speech Perception; Verbal Behavior


Mental and Social Health | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry and Psychology


This four-experiment series sought to evaluate the potential of children with neurosensory deafness and cochlear implants to exhibit auditory-visual and visual-visual stimulus equivalence relations within a matching-to-sample format. Twelve children who became deaf prior to acquiring language (prelingual) and four who became deaf afterwards (postlingual) were studied. All children learned auditory-visual conditional discriminations and nearly all showed emergent equivalence relations. Naming tests, conducted with a subset of the children, showed no consistent relationship to the equivalence-test outcomes. This study makes several contributions to the literature on stimulus equivalence. First, it demonstrates that both pre- and postlingually deaf children can acquire auditory-visual equivalence relations after cochlear implantation, thus demonstrating symbolic functioning. Second, it directs attention to a population that may be especially interesting for researchers seeking to analyze the relationship between speaker and listener repertoires. Third, it demonstrates the feasibility of conducting experimental studies of stimulus control processes within the limitations of a hospital, which these children must visit routinely for the maintenance of their cochlear implants.


J Exp Anal Behav. 2008 May;89(3):407-24.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID