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.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Special Event #65
SQAB 2006 Tutorial: Applied Modeling and the Identification of Behavioral Mechanisms of Action
Saturday, May 27, 2006
3:30 PM–4:20 PM
International Ballroom South
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Mark P. Reilly (Central Michigan University)
Presenting Authors: : M. CHRISTOPHER NEWLAND (Auburn University), Wendy Donlin Washington (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Abstract: A good model will reduce behavior to its fundamental elements. If successful, then this distillation can be exported to other research domains to address mechanistic questions. In our case, for example, the goal is the understanding of how environmental contaminants disrupt operant behavior. We describe our application of models to address the behavioral consequences of exposure to methylmercury: Models of choice using the matching relationship and Shull's mathematical model of behavior as a pattern of engagement bouts. We describe how we selected these models and then the stages of application. For example, with Shull's model we replicate it, extend it to high-rate behavior under percentile and DRH schedules of reinforcement, reproducing its essential features, scale it up and automate parameter estimation it so that it can be applied with a large number of conditions and subjects. Finally, using multiple regression, we test the application to confirm that the model parameters provide independent descriptors of behavior under these reinforcement schedules. The model's parameters can then be used as dependent measures to parse two distinctive effects methylmercury: alterations in reinforcer efficacy and motor competence. In a sense, this application represents, we think, a variation of another model, namely, Pennypacker's model of technology transfer.
M. CHRISTOPHER NEWLAND (Auburn University), Wendy Donlin Washington (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Dr. Chris Newland is an Alumni Professor at Auburn University where he and his students conduct research touching on behavioral toxicology, pharmacology, and EAB. He enjoys teaching at all levels and participates in Auburn's master's program in ABA/DD. Dr. Newland completed his doctoral work at Georgia Tech, with a joint minor in mathematics and neurobiology, and held a post-doctoral fellowship at the University at Rochester in Environmental Health. His research has been funded by NIEHS, NIAAA, NIDA, and the EPA and he currently is a member of Neurotoxicology and Alcohol study section for NIH. He is a past president of the Behavioral Toxicology Society, SEABA, and is president elect of the Neurotoxicology Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology. Dr. Newland claims to apply behavior-analytically derived models because it is helpful in appreciating mechanisms of action and in generalizing effects to humans, so important in Environmental Health. In truth, he does it because it's fun. Dr. Wendy Donlin recently completed her Ph.D. at Auburn University and is currently a post-doc with Ken Silverman in Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. She, too, enjoys working with mathematical models of behavior and initiated the application of models used in this talk. [supported by NIH-ES10865].



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