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

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Paper Session #353
Biological, Epigenic, and Neurophysiological Mechanisms and Early Child Development
Monday, May 26, 2014
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
W181b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DEV
Chair: Grazielle Noro (Universidade Estadual de Londrina)

Neuroscience and Behavior Analysis: The Use of Biological Variables to Explain Behavior

Domain: Theory
Grazielle Noro (Universidade Estadual de Londrina), Marcia Cristina Gon Caserta (Universidade Estadual de Londrina), ROBSON ZAZULA (Universidade Estadual de Londrina)

Behavior is explained by Behavior Analysis through the interaction between the subject and its environment. The variables that control behavior are in the environment and are determined through a functional analysis. Recently, Neuroscience, which object of study is the nervous system, has also aimed at the study of human behavior through its high-technological instruments and methods. It explains behavior through the clarification of neurophysiological mechanisms that occur within the organism. The aim of this study is to show the current relation between Neuroscience and Behavior Analysis and discuss whether these two sciences may complement each other and contribute to the scientific advance in general. Some studies in Neuroscience were presented, its explanation about the behavioral process based on biological variables and Skinner's objections to such explanations. These objections are based on the different realm of each science and, mainly, on the impossibility of determining through the technology that was known until the 1980s which processes were occurring under the skin. Such limitation may be overcome through the new current technology that can show precise data about the neurobiology of behavior, without invalidating the principles of Behavior Analysis.

Discontinuity or Delay Represented by Developmental Measures in Early Childhood
Domain: Basic Research
RAY BROGAN (Kaplan University)
Abstract: Measures of developmental progress such as the Revised Gesell Developmental Schedules are normed for infants, toddlers, and children between the ages of birth and six years old. If these measures are taken continuously over the six years for which they are valid, an otherwise normally developing child may demonstrate behavior that is more appropriate for a child of a younger age. Sometimes this younger age is only six months different from the child’s current age. Still, as the schedules were extensively normed, a normally developing child (by definition) would always demonstrate age appropriate behavior. Many times the deviations work themselves out, so that a child in later assessments demonstrates age-appropriate behavior. However, the nature and cause of these deviations have to be explored. These deviations may be presumed to represent either discontinuous development or developmental delay. Without clarifying these issues of the nature and cause, behavioral professionals may reach conclusions that could have long-term effect on the child’s education and welfare. This presentation will report on the lessons learned from conducting early childhood assessments in five different developmental areas. Suggestions and recommendations on addressing these issues will be presented.

Epigenetic Mechanisms and the Effects of Post-Natal Maternal Care in the Development of Offspring's Stress Vulnerability

Domain: Basic Research
GRAZIELLE NORO (Universidade Estadual de Londrina), Marcia Cristina Gon Caserta (Universidade Estadual de Londrina)

Early life experiences have been consistently related to alterations in the genetic expression through epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation or DNA histone modification. The present study aims to investigate the effects of the maternal care on the development of the stress vulnerability on the infant through epigenetic alterations and its relation as well as the relation of other studies on neurodevelopment, to Behavior Analysis. Dam's behavioral responses of licking, grooming and arched-back nursing their offspring have been related to epigenetic mechanisms that regulate stress reactivity through alterations in the HPA axis function. Offspring of high rates LG-ABN dams showed low vulnerability to stress because of the hypoactivation of the HPA axis mediated by low rates of corticotrophin hormone (CRF), high rates of novelty seeking, low rates of DNA methylation and high rates of DNA deacethylation of glucocorticoids receptor gene promoters as well as GABA and benzodiazepinic receptor gene promoters. The epigenetic mechanisms that operate on the offspring show the importance of post-natal maternal care and also relate to B. F. Skinner's statement about the possible physiological alterations related to the operant conditioning. It also signalizes to effective intervention based on the plasticity of the epigenome formation.


CANCELLED: Risk-Resiliency Trans-Disciplinary Evaluation: Integration of Developmental and Applied Behavioral Methods for Children 0-5

Domain: Service Delivery

This presentation describes a risk and resiliency trans-disciplinary team approach to diagnostic evaluation and assessment of at risk and developmentally disabled children, birth to five. The evaluative process involves multiple settings, multiple opportunities to respond and multiple informants in an overlapping format compressing evaluation time to minimally tax children and families plus yield higher reliability and validity of findings. Widely available instruments to assess parent, family and child status, risk and protective factors were further operationalized and used by simultaneous observers to yield high inter-observer reliability and data based profiles as well as functional narrative descriptions of current functioning and next steps in development and family support. Video samples of team functioning as well as illustrations of child profiles will illustrate how these methods improve diagnostic precision as well as enhanced specificity in intervention recommendations for families and their children.

Conditioning Towards a Climax: A Behavior Analytic Account of Sexual Behavior and Sexual Problems
Domain: Basic Research
DERIC E. TONEY (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Among the few powerful primary reinforcers for human behavior we have is sexual contact. The biological and evolutionary roots of such reinforcers are obvious: a species’ survival relies upon the engagement of behavior that results in sexual reinforcement. With the consideration of its evolutionary value, sexual behavior in today’s society occurs less frequently for procreation but more so for recreation. Sexual behavior serves many functions beyond reproduction including a foundational form of interaction within a relationship, an addiction, revenge, and escape. Along with its many functions, sexual behavior also bears with it many problems such as the spread of disease, unplanned pregnancy, sexual dysfunction, the destruction of a healthy relationship, and of course, its ability to break a heart. Despite its immeasurable power and prevalence, behavior analysts have inadequately addressed sexual behavior, perhaps due to its taboo nature. The breadth of sexual problems within a relationship or with an individual is endless. Behavior analysts are equipped with the necessary understanding of human behavior to address such problems but their efforts continue to be placed in almost every area of human behavior except sexual behavior. In this presentation, the author will discuss a behavior analytic account of the complexities of sexual behavior in terms of classical and operant conditioning, the problems associated with sexual behavior, and potential behavioral solutions to such problems.



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