Thanks to our speakers, poster presenters, sponsors, Program Chair Carole Van Camp and President Kim Epting for making SEABA 2018 a success!
James Diller (Eastern Connecticut State University)
Behavior analysis is a discipline with a rich history of promoting behavioral changes via environmental manipulation. While this science has huge potential to improve the quality of lives for every individual, its most visible area of current impact may be in autism and developmental disabilities. This presentation describes work that behavior analysts have done in the area of environmental sustainability, i.e., an attempt to reduce human impact on the physical environment. The application of physical and behavioral technologies in this domain will be explored. Examples of interventions from the behavior-analytic research literature will be discussed, with a focus on energy consumption and recycling. Additionally, suggestions for ways to incorporate sustainability in behavior-analytic training will be considered, with the goal of increasing the sphere of influence of behavior analysis.
Jeanne Donaldson (Louisiana State University)
Overused and Understudied: Time-Out from Positive Reinforcement and Token Reinforcement Systems
Time-out from positive reinforcement and token reinforcement systems share similar histories with respect to research trajectories. Research demonstrating the effectiveness of both procedures at changing behavior peaked in the 1970s and demonstrated the strength and versatility of time-out and token systems across varying populations, settings, and responses. However, little research followed up to examine the underlying mechanisms and specific conditions under which time-out and token systems are most effective. Despite our relatively limited understanding of these procedures, they are widely used (and misused) in practice by parents, teachers, and clinicians. In this talk, I will make the case that now is the time for a closer examination of time-out and token systems and present data from my research highlighting recent findings in both domains.
Dana Gadaire (Florida Institute of Technology - Scott Center For Autism Treatment)
Behavioral approaches to social skills intervention (from early learners to preadolescents)
The field of ABA has met resounding success in addressing many of the behavioral excesses and deficits associated with autism and related disorders. Unfortunately, social skill development is an area that has largely evaded behavioral researchers. Despite the proliferation of manualized treatments (behavioral and non-behavioral) that are often used to teach specific social skills, few programs have documented the level of empirical support behavior analysts demand. Those that have been shown to be efficacious in clinical settings often fail to produce meaningful maintenance or generalization of outcomes in participating children’s natural environments. This talk will discuss potential reasons for the dearth of research on social development as well as avenues for future research regarding assessment and intervention in this area. This talk will discuss targets and methods for teaching social skills at various levels of child development from early learner skills (e.g., turn-taking in social play) to more advanced skills for high-functioning learners (e.g., self-monitoring). Finally, this talk will incorporate considerations for enhancing maintenance and generalization of learned skills to the natural environment.
James Johnston (Auburn University - retired)
Do we know less than we think we do? Some methodological challenges for ABA
As ABA interests emerged from the laboratory research foundation offered by EAB, they borrowed from its parent science a comprehensive and demonstrably effective set of methodological practices. Over the ensuing 50 years, however, the ABA research literature has revealed growing acceptance of a number of weaknesses in its research methods. This presentation will review three problem areas: 1) Using discontinuous measurement procedures, 2) Accepting limited pictures of responding in compared conditions, and 3) Arranging weak comparisons. These and other methodological challenges suggest that the findings of the ABA literature may be less informative than we believe.
Kimberly Kirkpatrick (Kansas State University)
Perturbations of delay discounting in rats
Steep delay discounting, a hallmark of impulsive choice, involves preferring smaller amounts available sooner as opposed to waiting for larger amounts. Thus, there is an inherent trade-off between amount and delay when making choices. It is well established that steep delay discounting curves are associated with a range of maladaptive behaviors, but the specific mechanisms that lead to steep delay discounting are still poorly understood. Potential behavioral mechanisms include delay or magnitude sensitivity, delay or magnitude preference, and integration of delay and magnitude into an overall discounted value. Recent research has examined different variables, including a range of environmental factors, that perturb delay discounting functions and these behavioral mechanisms. Understanding the factors that perturb delay discounting and their associated mechanisms could be critical for reducing impulsive choice behavior. Attempts to moderate impulsive choice have been undertaken that may alter specific mechanisms as well as affecting overall value.
Meghan McDevitt-Murphy (University of Memphis)
Understanding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder through the Lens of Behavioral Economics
The theoretical framework of Behavioral Economics may offer some benefit for understanding posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and for developing effective interventions. From this perspective, avoidance of trauma-related distress could be considered an overvalued reinforcer, where the individual prefers the short-term benefits of avoidance, at the cost of larger, more delayed reinforcers. Avoidance contributes to the persistence of PTSD symptoms, and to social isolation and functional impairment across domains. Avoidance also serves to reduce opportunities to make contact with positive reinforcers in one’s environment, thereby reducing the overall availability of reinforcement. This paucity of reinforcers may be a factor in the high rate of substance misuse among individuals with PTSD. This presentation will discuss findings from veterans and civilian samples that illustrate the ways that PTSD may be understood from a behavioral economic perspective, including metrics that reflect behavioral allocation patterns among individuals with PTSD. Additionally, behavioral economic analyses of the co-morbidity of PTSD and substance misuse will be included. Finally, the presentation will address implications for treatment of PTSD from a behavioral economic perspective.
Melissa Nosik (Behavior Analyst Certification Board)
Representation of Women in Behavior Analysis: An Empirical Investigation
As in other disciplines and society at large, women were underrepresented in behavior analysis in its early decades. Over the years, multiple articles have documented increasing trends in women’s representation in behavior analysis in a number of areas such as publications, association membership, and editorial appointments. These articles have documented modest progress toward gender parity, but there still remains, perhaps justifiably, a perception that women are underrepresented in some areas and that the “glass ceiling” may still exist. In my presentation, I will share contemporary data that depict notable increases in women’s representation, including some exciting trends that foreshadow a female-led discipline.
Tim Shahan (Utah State University)
Understanding Resurgence as Choice
Resurgence is an increase in a previously eliminated behavior resulting from a “worsening of conditions” for a more recently reinforced alternative behavior. The phenomenon is important because it is often observed following differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) interventions for problem behavior when reinforcement for an alternative behavior is omitted or reduced. The efficacy of DRA has long been conceptualized as being related to the same basic processes that govern choice between concurrently available operants. This talk will describe a theory of resurgence that suggests that resurgence results from these same basic choice processes. The theory accounts for resurgence in situations in which the only existing quantitative theory of resurgence (behavioral momentum theory) has failed. The theory generates novel predictions about the conditions under which resurgence might be expected to occur and
how it might be reduced in applied settings.
Cristina Whitehouse (University of Florida - Florida Autism Center)
Restricted and Repetitive Behavior in Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Clinical and Translational Findings
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is partly defined by restricted and repetitive behavior. Such behavior is exemplified by both “lower order” repetitive motor behavior and “higher order” behavior characterized by their insistence on sameness or resistance to change. There is increasing recognition, however, that beyond these behavioral exemplars, a generalized rigidity in engaging with the environment may be a hallmark of individuals with ASD. To date, behavioral treatment studies for aberrant repetitive behavior are limited. Additionally, relatively little is known about the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate the development and expression of repetitive behavior. In all there is a need for further research to identify effective early interventions, pharmacotherapies, and prevention strategies. This presentation will review clinical findings in repetitive behavior as well as findings from animal models that highlight the environmental factors and the role of cortical-basal ganglia circuitry in mediating the development and expression of this behavior.
Thanks to our 2018 Conference Sponsors!
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