Rudimentary Reading Repertoires via Stimulus Equivalence and Recombination of Minimal Verbal Units

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Reading; Developmental Disabilities; Behavior


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


We report a study with sixteen low-SES Brazilian children that sought to establish a repertoire of relations involving dictated words, printed words, and corresponding pictures. Children were taught: (1) in response to dictated words, to select corresponding pictures; (2) in response to syllables presented in both visual and auditory formats, to select words which contained a corresponding syllable in either the first or the last position; (3) in response to dictated-word samples, to “construct” corresponding printed words via arranging their constituent syllabic components; and (4) in response to printed word samples, to construct identical printed words by arranging their syllabic constituents. After training on the first two types of tasks, children were given tests for potentially emergent relations involving printed words and pictures. Almost all exhibited relations consistent with stimulus equivalence. They also displayed emergent naming performances––not only with training words but also with new words that were recombinations of their constituent syllables. The present work was inspired by Sidman's stimulus equivalence paradigm and by Skinner's functional analysis of verbal relations, particularly as applied to conceptions of minimal behavioral units and creativity (i.e., behavioral flexibility) in the analytical units applied to verbal relations.


Matos, M. A., Avanzi, A. L., & McIlvane, W. J. (2006). Rudimentary reading repertoires via stimulus equivalence and recombination of minimal verbal units. Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 22, 3-19.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Analysis of Verbal Behavior