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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #415
International Symposium - Recent Developments in the Study of Choice and Timing
Monday, May 28, 2007
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Madeleine AB
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Elizabeth Kyonka (University of Canterbury)
Abstract: The timing of events plays a critical role in how animals understand the world around them and make decisions about it. However, choice and timing have usually been studied in isolation. The procedures used in the experimental study of animal choice, such as concurrent schedules and concurrent chains, often involve opportunities to respond to discriminative stimuli that signal different delays to reinforcement. An important question is whether the acquisition and expression of animals’ preference is linked with their learning of the temporal relationship between stimuli and reinforcement. The research presented in this symposium explores the relationship between choice and timing behavior. Although the talks reflect the presenters’ differing theoretical orientations, a common theme is that choice and timing should be studied together.
Performance in Chain and Concurrent Chain Schedules: Conditioned Reinforcement or Interval Timing?
DANIEL T. CERUTTI (Duke University)
Abstract: A stimulus paired with the delivery of a primary reinforcer is supposed to become a conditioned reinforcer. This concept explains performance in chain and concurrent chain schedules: responding during the initial links of such procedures is hypothesized to be maintained by the conditioned reinforcement properties of the latter links. This talk will try to show how interval timing allows an alternative view of the determinant of behavior in these procedures. This view does not require the theoretical notion of conditioned reinforcement and is able indeed to explain some paradoxical effects in chain and concurrent chain procedures difficult to reconcile with the idea of a conditioned reinforcement.
The Temporal Regulation of Choice.
Abstract: Choice and timing are two important research topics in the experimental analysis of behavior, yet few research have tried to link one to each other. This paper will try to show how the study of choice in situations with an important temporal component can bring new light concerning the processes controlling behavior.
Choice and Timing in Concurrent Chains: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?
ELIZABETH KYONKA (University of Canterbury), Randolph C. Grace (University of Canterbury)
Abstract: What is the relationship between response allocation and temporal discrimination in changing and unchanging environments? In this experiment, pigeons were trained in a concurrent-chains procedure with fixed-interval (FI) 10 s and FI 20 s terminal link delays where the location of the shorter delay varied across sessions according to a 31-step pseudorandom binary sequence. Previous research using this ‘rapid acquisition’ design has found that pigeons’ initial-link response allocation is controlled by the terminal-link delays in the current session (Grace, Bragason, & McLean, 2003; Kyonka & Grace, under revision). After training in the rapid acquisition procedure, pigeons were exposed to steady state conditions in which terminal-link delays did not change across sessions. Occasional no-food terminal links probed the acquisition of temporal control throughout the experiment. Analyses are planned which will compare the acquisition and relative accuracy of preference and temporal discrimination under rapid acquisition and steady state conditions.
Is Acquisition of Preference in Concurrent Chains Facilitated by Pre-Training with Terminal-Link Schedules?
RANDOLPH C. GRACE (University of Canterbury), Elizabeth Kyonka (University of Canterbury)
Abstract: Pigeons were trained in a concurrent chains procedure in which the terminal links were always fixed-interval (FI) 10 s and FI 20 s, but their location was changed across sessions according to a pseudorandom binary series (Grace, Bragason, & McLean, 2003). Six no-food trials for each terminal link were distributed throughout the session so that acquisition of temporal control could be observed. On a random half of the sessions, the initial links were omitted for the first half of the session. We conducted regression analyses to compare preference in the second half of sessions in which the initial links were omitted, with preference in the first half of sessions in which initial links were included. For three of four pigeons that showed significant sensitivity to the current-session immediacy ratio, preference was greater in the second half of sessions in which the initial links had been omitted. This demonstrates that exposure to the terminal links during the first half of the session facilitated acquisition of preference for these subjects.



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