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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #231
CE Offered: BACB
Experimental Analyses of Behavioral Processes Relevant to Applied Behavior Analysis
Sunday, May 29, 2005
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
International North (2nd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Craig H. Kennedy (Vanderbilt University)
CE Instructor: Craig H. Kennedy, Ph.D.

Decades of laboratory research has yielded functional relations that have been useful for improving peoples living conditions. Historically, the basic to applied research model has been largely unidirectional. However, with the increased interest in basic behavioral processes among applied behavior analysts, there is an emerging focus on studying applied issues in the laboratory. This symposium will feature research from rodent laboratories at the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University. A range of schedule-oriented analyses and pharmacological manipulations will be presented that relate to issues of interest to applied behavior analysts.

An Evaluation of Response Persistence and Response Suppression under Time-Based Schedules of Food Presentation
JOHN C. BORRERO (University of the Pacific), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Andrew Samaha (University of Florida)
Abstract: Fixed-time (FT) schedules are commonly implemented as interventions to decrease severe problem behavior in applied settings. However, in some circumstances, FT schedules may be implemented to maintain appropriate responding. In our prior research, FT schedules produced persistent responding among rats, when alternated with a response-dependent condition and extinction in the context of mixed, or multiple schedule arrangements. In the present experiment, rats were exposed to a FI 60-s baseline followed by a FT condition. For all subjects response rates decreased under FT conditions. Following reversals of the FI 60-s and FT conditions, subjects were exposed to an interspersal test condition in which FT sessions were conducted until the rate of responding decreased by 10% or more of the mean response rate during the last 6 sessions from the previous FI 60-s condition. When response rates in the FT schedule decreased by 10% of the baseline mean, a FI 60-s session was conducted. The purpose of this condition was to determine the proportion of FI sessions required to maintain responding under FT schedules. Results suggested that intermittent introduction of response-dependent sessions produced response persistence under FT conditions. Results will be discussed in terms of potential applications to socially significant behavior.
Access to Aggression as Positive Reinforcement under Various Time and Ratio Schedule Requirements in Mice
MICHAEL E. MAY (Vanderbilt University), Maria H. Couppis (Vanderbilt University), Craig H. Kennedy (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Violent behaviors, such as aggression, appear in most phyla and seem to serve an adaptive function (Scott, 1958). However, the appearance of these behaviors in human beings can be associated with a range of detrimental societal outcomes (Reiss et al., 1994). For people with developmental disabilities, the occurrence of aggression is associated with placement in more restrictive residential and educational settings and a diminished quality of life. Although a great deal of preclinical research has been done on the neurobiology of aggression, little is known about the operant characteristics of these behaviors and the neurobiology that might underlie their occurrence. It is plausible that a better understanding of possible reward mechanisms related to aggression may lead to improved behavioral and/or pharmacological treatments. An important first step in pursuit of this goal is to isolate aggression as an operant response that can be studied in its own right. In this poster, we present data on aggression as a positive reinforcer for an arbitrary response (i.e., nose poking) in mice. The experiments used Male Swiss-Webster mice in the resident-intruder paradigm. Initially, mice were taught to nose poke as an operant response to earn liquid. Once stable patterns of responding were established, the liquid was withdrawn as a consequence and a novel intruder mouse was introduced when the response contingency was met. We obtained response patterns characteristic of fixed-ratio, fixed-interval, and DRL reinforcement schedules suggesting that access to aggression functioned as a positive reinforcer. Tests using a progressive-ratio reinforcement schedule showed a “break point” significantly lower than for liquid reinforcement, suggesting that access to aggression was a lesser valence stimulus than liquid. Our findings provide a potential model system and experimental paradigm for analyzing the neurobiology of aggression within the context of its stimulus properties as a positive reinforcer.
Some Effects of Contingency Manipulations on Responding with Rats
ANDREW SAMAHA (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Laura E. O'Steen (University of Florida)
Abstract: Effects of positive and negative contingencies were examined in two experiments. A positive contingency was programmed by arranging a higher probability of pellet delivery following periods with lever presses than following periods without lever presses. Negative contingencies followed the opposite pattern. In Experiment 1, responding was acquired and maintained under a positive contingency but not under a negative contingency. In Experiment 2, the contingency was gradually shifted from positive to negative across several sessions. Results are presented in terms of responding under various contingency values and applied implications with respect to treatment integrity are discussed.
Behavioral Pharmacology of Aggression in Mice Lacking the Tailless Gene
PABLO JUAREZ (Vanderbilt University), Maria G. Valdovinos (Vanderbilt University), Maria H. Couppis (Vanderbilt University), Michael E. May (Vanderbilt University), Craig H. Kennedy (Vanderbilt University)
Abstract: Aggressive behaviors are of great concern to people who care for, provide services to, and with developmental disabilities. A number of studies examine the neurogenomics of aggression in animal models such as the tailless (tlx) mouse. The tlx gene belongs to a superfamily of genes that encode transcription factors for ligand-activated receptors expressed in the brain. Tlx gene deficiency results in telencephalon, corpus collosum, amygdala, and hippocampus reduction, and leads to visual, olfactory, and loco-motor deficits. Tlx mice exhibit behavior during testing that indicate decreased inhibition to tasks which control mice typically do not engage in readily (e.g. time spent distally on open arms of an elevated maze). The present study utilizes a resident/intruder model, in which wildtype mice are introduced to the tlx resident cage for 10m sessions. Measurements of latency to first attack, total duration of aggression, locomotion, and grooming are taken. During intervention, clozapine, a borad spectrum antagonist for multiple receptor types is injected at graduated levels from 0.1 mg/kg to 1.5 mg/kg. In general, aggression in the intervention is lower than in baseline with the levels of grooming and locomotion remaining stable across conditions. This indicates that decreased aggression is not a result of sedation.



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