Acquisition of Imitative Speech by Schizophrenic Children

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Science  11 Feb 1966:
Vol. 151, Issue 3711, pp. 705-707
DOI: 10.1126/science.151.3711.705


Two mute schizophrenic children were taught imitative speech within an operant conditioning framework. The training procedure consisted of a series of increasingly fine verbal discriminations; the children were rewarded for closer and closer reproductions of the attending adults' speech. We found that reward delivered contingent upon imitation was necessary for development of imitation. Furthermore, the newly established imitation was shown to have acquired rewarding properties for the children.