Verbal Behavior & Language


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Welcome to Cambridge Center's section dedicated to verbal behavior. Behavioral science views language as verbal behavior (e.g., speaking, writing, signing) that comes about by interacting with others, called the verbal community. From this view, verbal behavior, in all of its complexity, can be studied and understood Show More


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Reinforcement learning and conditioning: an overview
Computer simulations represent an important test of the explanatory power of quantitative models of behavior. Jeremie Jozefowiez presents an investigation into computer models of conditioning, both operant and respondent, that underlie both animal and human behavior.
Tags: computer simulations, computer models, conditioning
Review of Conversant Systems
The Standard Turing Test, proposed by Alan Turing in 1950 as a test of whether machines can actually think, is an exercise in making human judges think a computer program is actually a human. After eleven years of contests, it is appropriate to look back at the most successful systems of the past, and in doing so, try to answer the following questions: What have been the most successful techniques? To what extent have these mirrored the state-of-the-art in computational linguistics and natural language processing? Are we any closer to a truly intelligent computer, and is the Loebner competition the right way to find out?
Tags: Turing Test, computer models
The Long Good-Bye: Why B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior Is Alive and Well on the 50th Anniversary of Its Publication
The year 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, a book that by Skinner's own account was his most important. The received view, however, is that a devastating review by a young linguist not only rendered Skinner's interpretation of language moot but was also a major factor in ending the hegemony of behaviorism in psychology and paving the way for a cognitive revolution. Nevertheless, in taking stock of Verbal Behavior and behaviorism, both appear to be thriving. This article suggests that Verbal Behavior and behaviorism remain vital partly because they have generated successful practical applications.
Tags: Verbal Behavior, B.F. Skinner, Schlinger
The Speaker as Listener: The Interpretation of Structural Regularities in Verbal Behavior
Regularities in word order not specifically addressed by Skinner require behavioral interpretation if our field is to become more influential among students of language. It is argued that the variables controlling such regularities derive from the speaker's repertoire as listener. Although this account offers only a tentative interpretation of grammar and syntax in a limited domain, it suggests that the conceptual tools of behavior analysis are adequate to the task of explaining even the most subtle of grammatical rules.
Tags: structure of language, verbal behavior, language

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