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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #144
CE Offered: BACB
Behavior Analytic Approaches to Preference, Language, and Memory Among Older Adults with Dementia
Sunday, May 25, 2014
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
W181a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DEV/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Jonathan C. Baker (Southern Illinois University)
CE Instructor: Jonathan C. Baker, Ph.D.

Behavioral Gerontology research continues to expand our understanding of how older adults with dementia learn and respond to environmental contingencies. Over the past decade, this research has expanded to preference assessments, reinforcer assessments, and the possibility to impact both activity engagement as well as learning (both relearning existing information, as well as learning new information). This symposium will include three such demonstrations. One study evaluated the stability of preference among older adults with dementia, looking at preference over a six-month period of time. Another study evaluated using Skinner's Analysis of Verbal Behavior and teaching Mand repertoires to older adults with dementia, including an evaluation of the role of motivating operations, preference assessment, and contingency specifying stimuli. The final study used spaced retrieval to evaluate recall of items over increasing periods of time among older adults with dementia, looking at recall within session and across days using single subject design. The implications of these studies and the future directions for behavioral gerontology research will be discussed.

Keyword(s): Dementia, Memory, Preference, Verbal Behavior

Assessing Preferences in Older Adults with Dementia

SANDRA GARCIA (University of Colorado Colorado Springs), Leilani Feliciano (University of Colorado Colorado Springs)

Individuals with dementia gradually decline in activity engagement as the cognitive impairment progresses, which may occur due to difficulties initiating leisure activities independently, communicating needs, and caregivers may not be accurate in predicting activity preference. To address these difficulties, preference assessments (PA) have been effectively used to determine likes and dislikes among this population. This study examined the utility of PA as a strategy to identify preferred leisure activities and assessed the stability of preferences over time (i.e., one and six months after the initial assessment) in eight older adults in a memory care setting. Initial assessment data have been collected for all participants, and two participants have completed the initial plus one month assessments, and assessments have been scheduled for the remaining participants. Results to date: Participant 1 Jill has demonstrated stability between the initial and one month assessment (r = 0.83, p < 0.042) (Figure 1). No stability was found in Participant 2 Marys preferences (r = 0.143, p > 0.787) (Figure 2). Results suggest that the stability of preferences varies across individuals. Clinical implications of these findings and recommendations for the frequency of administered PA in this population will be discussed.

Contriving Establishing Operations to Train Mands among Older Adults with Dementia
CHELSEY OLESON (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Jonathan C. Baker (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Millions of Americans are afflicted with dementia and that number is only expected to rise. The diagnosis of dementia comes with impairments, especially in language, and dementia functional declines appear to be affected by the environment and not solely as a result of the disorder (Alzheimer’s Association, 2012; American Psychiatric Association, 2000; Engelman, Altus, & Mathews, 1999; Engelman, Altus, Mosier, & Mathews, 2003). Traditional language tests are not likely to assess or treat deficits in mands (Esch, LaLonde, & Esch, 2010), and the mand is a verbal operant about which little is known among this population. The current study investigates whether contriving an establishing operation within a preferred activity using a prompt-probe intermix procedure and a transfer of stimulus control procedure could effectively train mands in older adults with dementia. The procedure was demonstrated to be effective with one participant, but results were inconsistent with the second participant. Modifications were made throughout training for both participants, showing the importance of modifying and individualizing treatment

Improving Recall Using Spaced Retrieval Stimulus Sets for an Older Adult with Cognitive Impairment

DAWN SEEFELDT (Southern Illinois University), Jonathan C. Baker (Southern Illinois University), Kathleen Fairchild (Rehabilitation Institute Southern Illinois University)

Spaced retrieval (SR) is a well-developed memory enhancement intervention for older adults with cognitive impairment. Information is presented over increasing or decreasing time intervals depending upon participant performance under the guise of a social visit. In previous research, SR has been used to target name-face associations for family members and staff (Cherry, Hawley, Jackson, & Boudreaux, 2009; Cherry, Walvoord, & Hawley, 2010; Haslam et al., 2011; Hawley & Cherry, 2004), naming of objects (Cherry et al., 1999; Cherry & Simmons-DGerolamo, 2005; Hochhalter, Bakke, Holub, & Overmier, 2004), and use of external memory aids (Bourgeois, 2003; Camp et al., 1996; Ozgis, Rendell, & Henry, 2009). The current study sought to extend previous research by training a 79-year-old woman with memory impairment to recall clinically relevant stimuli using SR within a multiple probe design across three stimulus sets. The participant was able to increase recall within and across stimuli for the first stimulus set (orientation to time), increase recall within session for the second stimulus set (orientation to place), yet struggled to recall the third set of stimuli within or across trials (daily functioning/well-being). Implications for targeting multiple stimuli during psychotropic medication changes for an older adult with memory deficits are discussed.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh