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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Symposium #171
International Symposium - Advances in the Clinical Application of Motivating Operations
Sunday, May 28, 2006
1:30 PM–2:50 PM
International Ballroom North
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Chaturi Edrisinha (University of Texas, Austin)
Discussant: Peter McGill (Tizard Centre, University of Kent)
Abstract: There has been a steady growth in interest in the influence of establishing or motivating operations on challenging behavior. In this symposium we present three research papers that examine the clinical utility and functional properties of motivating operations. In our first paper Craig Kennedy and colleague will examine the idiosyncratic influences of prior conditions on performance in subsequent functional analysis sessions. The importance of these findings for clinical assessment are discussed. In the second paper Mark O'Reilly and colleagues will describe recent examinations of the evocative effect of the motivating operation. Potential implications for clinical assessment and intervention are described. Finally, Jennifer McComas and colleagues examine the influence of intra-cranial pressure as a motibvating operation for self-injury for a child with developmental disabilities and hydrocephalus. The findings of these studies witll then be discussed by Peter McGill of the University of Kent at Canterbury.
A Paradoxical Effect of Presession Attention on Stereotypy: Antecedent Attention as an Establishing, Not an Abolishing, Operation.
CHRISTINA F. ROANTREE (Vanderbilt University), Craig H. Kennedy (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Research on motivating operations continues to reveal new insights into behavioral processes underling human behavior. Previous studies have shown that presession attention for problem behavior can serve as an abolishing operation when attention functions as a positive reinforcer. That is, attention prior to a functional analysis can decrease the positively reinforcing effects of attention during the experimental analysis. In the current study, we show that presession attention can function as an establishing operation for attention as a positive reinforcer. Initially, we obtained an undifferentiated pattern of stereotypy during standard analogue functional analysis conditions. However, when noncontingent presession attention was provided, stereotypy occurred for social attention as a positive reinforcer, suggesting that the antecedent manipulation functioned as an establishing operation. Our findings suggest that any particular stimulus functioning as a positive reinforcer needs to be assessed in terms of both establishing and abolishing operations in order to understand the motivational salience of the stimulus and its relation to possible antecedent manipulations.
Preliminary Examinations of the Evocative Effect of the Motivating Operation on Operant Responding.
MARK O'REILLY (University of Texas, Austin), Chaturi Edrisinha (University of Texas, Austin), Jeffrey S. Sigafoos (University of Tasmania)
Abstract: We describe the results of two related studies. In study 1 we attempted to isolate the evocative effects of the motivating operation (MO) for positively reinforced challenging behavior with two participants. The study consisted of three phases. First, functional analysis identified tangibles (participant 1) and attention (participant 2) as maintaining challenging behavior. Second, access to tangibles and attention was systematically controlled (continuous access versus no access) immediately prior to functional analysis sessions in which these consequences were delivered contingent on challenging behavior. Finally, prior access was again controlled but challenging behavior produced no consequences. Results of this final phase of the study indicated that challenging behavior occurred at higher levels during extinction sessions when participants did not have prior access to the reinforcers. These results seem to demonstrate the evocative effect of the MO. In the second study we attempted to identify one functional mechanism by which this evocative effect may occur, namely, that the MO can have a direct effect on the behavior itself. Positively reinforced challenging behavior was examined under functional analysis alone conditions while presession levels of these reinforcers were systematically controlled. In the alone condition both the SDs and consequences for challenging behavior are absent which therefore allowed us to isolate the direct effect of the MO on the behavior itself.
The Effects of Intra-Cranial Pressure on the Functional Analysis of Self-Injurious Behavior.
JENNIFER J. MCCOMAS (University of Minnesota), Ellie C. Hartman (University of Minnesota), Elizabeth Gilles (University of Minnesota), Stacy E. Danov (University of Minnesota), Frank J. Symons (University of Minnesota)
Abstract: The effects of intra-cranial pressure (ICP) on self-injurious behavior (SIB) were analyzed with a 12 year old girl with cognitive, communicative, and motor impairments. Congenital physical abnormalities included hydrocephalus for which she was a candidate for frontal bone advancement and anterior cranial vault remodeling. She had a ventriculoperioneal shunt that had required multiple revisions. The hydrocephalus and dysfunctional shunt resulted in intermittent periods of ICP, which was confirmed via visual inspection during the three phases of this analysis. The results of the initial FA, conducted when ICP was low, indicated that her SIB was maintained by positive reinforcement. In the subsequent phase, the FA was repeated when ICP was high, and showed elevated occurrences of SIB without respect to experimental manipulation. In the final phase, the FA was repeated when ICP was low and the occurrence of SIB was comparable to the first phase. Inter-observer agreement averaged above 80% across all sessions. Results are discussed in terms of the moderating effects of pain as an establishing operation on FA outcomes.



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