The rehabilitation of verbal operants following acquired brain injury

Although verbal deficits are major concerns for individuals following an acquired brain injury (ABI), behavior-analytic research on language training in neurorehabilitation settings is extremely limited. The purpose of the current study was to systematically replicate the work of Sundberg, San Juan, Dawdy, and Arugelles (1990) in which the authors evaluated the acquisition and functional interdependence of verbal operants for adults following ABI. We used slightly modified procedures (e.g., inclusion of high preference activities, progressive prompt delay) and compared acquisition rates of tacts, mands, and intraverbals with three adult ABI survivors. We also assessed if directly training one verbal operant led to the emergence of untrained, topographically similar verbal operants. We found mand training was successful for all participants and led to the greatest amount of transfer under tact conditions, contrary to Sundberg et al. Potential explanations for the differences between our results and those of Sundberg et al. are discussed.