Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

Mathematical Principles of Reinforcement: A Panel with Discussion

M. Christopher Newland (Auburn University)

Invited Panel




Chris Newland directs a laboratory to investigate drugs and contaminants that affect behavioral and brain development using experimental models. With his students, he has reported troubling impairments in behavioral plasticity, choice, and learning that can be traced to low-level methylmercury exposure during the prenatal and adolescent periods or drug exposure during adolescence. For example, he reported that methylmercury during gestion accelerates aging long after exposure ends. He is also involved in a project to reduce the use of psychotropic medicine among children in foster care. Dr. Newland has served on numerous panels guiding federal environmental policy as well as grant review panels for the NIH and the EPA. He has played leadership roles in the Society of Toxicology and the Association for Behavior Analysis International. He teaches courses at all levels in behavioral neuroscience, psychopharmacology, conditioning and learning, and clinical psychopharmacology in developmental disabilities.



This session, a follow-up to Peter Killeen’s tutorial on Mathematical Principles of Reinforcement, will offer examples of MPR’s application and thoughts about potential uses. Why consider applying MPR? It is a comprehensive theory of behavior that is derived from three elementary, common-sensical principles. The data required for model fitting, which come from a series of fixed-ratios or a progressive ratio schedule, are acquired quickly. The ability of its parameters to distinguish reinforcer efficacy, how reinforcers select recent behavior, and motor characteristics of behavior can yield insight into behavioral determinants. Chris Newland will describe its application in characterizing the actions of drugs and contaminants that act on the nervous system, John Michael Falligant will explore its potential applications to applied behavior analysis, and Brent Kaplan will describe how it might address issues in substance abuse.


Modifed by Eddie Soh