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 #471
Basic and Applied Research with Older Adults
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
12:00 PM–1:20 PM
Area: DEV; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Linda A. LeBlanc (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Four papers will explore past and current basic and applied studies in aging. Future directions for research are presented.
A Review of Basic Research in Aging.
BRIAN J. FEENEY (Western Michigan University), Paige Raetz (Western Michigan University), Jonathan C. Baker (Western Michigan University), Linda A. LeBlanc (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: The field of behavioral gerontology is growing, yet little basic research has examined the effects of aging on behavior outside of applied contexts. The basic literature on aging is reviewed covering classical conditioning studies as well as human operant studies. Gaps in the literature and suggestions for future directions of experimental research in aging will be presented.
Behavioral Variability in Dementia.
CLAUDIA DROSSEL (University of Nevada, Reno), Jane E. Fisher (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Degenerative forms of dementia inevitably result in decreased behavioral variability. In the current study elderly individuals with dementia diagnoses and varying skill deficits played a computer game that involved 32 choices to move a dot from the top of a displayed triangle to the bottom (adapted from Hopkinson & Neuringer, 2003; also, Neuringer & Miller, 2000). During baseline conditions (A), consequences were provided with a probability of .5 regardless of the paths’ variability, while variability in path selection was reinforced using a percentile schedule in the experimental conditions (B). A-B-A reversals were presented in three phases: (1) without instructions; (2) with instructions at the beginning of each condition; and (3) with continuous instructions. These phases assessed whether variability in participants’ choices could be increased even if behavior had ceased to be sensitive to instructional control. The implications of the results for the characterization of behavioral deficits in dementia and for the prescription of interventions will be discussed.
Effects of Dog Visits on Depression, Mood, and Social Interaction in Elderly Individuals in Nursing Homes.
RAYMOND G. MILTENBERGER (North Dakota State University), Kristin Thompson (North Dakota State University), Jens Tess (North Dakota State University), Heather Wadeson (North Dakota State University)
Abstract: Although interest in the use of animals in a therapeutic manner has increased in recent years, little methodologically sound research has been conducted examining its effects on clinically relevant dependent variables. Much of the research has focused on the use of animals with individuals living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The present study investigated the effects of weekly dog visits on depression scores, mood, and social interaction in elderly individuals living in a nursing home. Generalization of the effects was also measured across situations. Results indicated that dog visits did not improve depression scores, mood (with the exception of one resident), or social interaction (with the exception of one resident). Residents did interact with the dog during the visits, however, and reported that they enjoyed the visits.
The Utility of a Multimedia Enhancement of the Pleasant Events Schedule for Assessing Preferences of Elders with Dementia.
PAIGE RAETZ (Western Michigan University), Brian J. Feeney (Western Michigan University), Jonathan C. Baker (Western Michigan University), Thomas G. Szabo (Imagine Colorado), Linda A. LeBlanc (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: This study evaluated the utility of a multimedia-based presentation of the Pleasant Events Schedule (PES) with elders diagnosed with dementia. Verbal stimuli may no longer be an effective means of assessing preference in elders with dementia. A visual stimulus depicting the activity may enhance accuracy of identified preferences. This study compared the results of an oral interview format of the PES with a multimedia presentation of the same questions. An engagement analysis was then conducted with any stimuli with discrepant results on the two formats to determine which format proved more accurate in predicting future engagement. Items consistently selected as preferred and non-preferred by both methods were also included to further verify predictive ability. Data will be presented for four elders with dementia.



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