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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #179
CE Offered: BACB
Conceptual Investigations in Behavioral Theory and Philosophy
Sunday, May 24, 2009
9:30 AM–10:50 AM
North 132 A
Area: TPC/AUT; Domain: Theory
Chair: Jonathan J. Tarbox (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Discussant: Denis P. O'Hora (National University of Ireland, Galway)
CE Instructor: Daniel J. Moran, Ph.D.
Abstract: Empirical research provides the data that construct the foundation of the science of behavior analysis. However, conceptual analysis, integration, and systemization of principles, assumptions, and theories is a prerequisite to the meaningful use of such data. That is, without a coherent conceptual system, any science can descend into confusion and eclecticism. This symposium consists of three papers which attempt to clarify, rework, or otherwise systematize concepts in behavior science. The first paper attempts a radical behavioral conceptual analysis of the behavior/environment interactions which may stand behind the constructs of “executive functions” in general psychology and discusses practical implications for intervention in autism. The second paper reassesses the concept of function in behavior science. The third paper analyzes the concept of conjugate reinforcement and discusses how it may be useful in application to intervention for children with autism. The symposium will conclude with a discussion by Dr. Denis O’Hora.
“Executive Functions” and Autism: A Radical Behavioral Conceptual Analysis and Research Review
JONATHAN J. TARBOX (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.), Dennis Dixon (Center for Autism and Related Disorders), Adel C. Najdowski (C.A.R.D., Inc.), Doreen Granpeesheh (Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.)
Abstract: “Executive functions” are said to be the brain mechanisms which control goal-directed behavior. Constructs commonly discussed in the field of executive function include working memory, short-term memory, attention, inhibition, planning, self-awareness, and problem solving. The frontal lobe of the brain is often cited as the location of these functions and research has clearly demonstrated that damage to this area of the brain produces decrements in these functions. There is no doubt that healthy functioning of the frontal lobe of the brain is necessary for executive functions, however, executive functions, like all constructs which refer to behavior/environment interactions, are simply names for what people do. Thus, a behavioral account may have much to recommend it, both in parsimony and in practicality. Specifically, if executive functions are actually behavioral repertoires, then the principles of behavior may well inform how we can understand and manipulate them. In this talk, we review research on assessment and intervention in executive functions in autism and find that a significant amount of research has been conducted on the former and very little on the latter. Further, we propose a behavioral conceptual analysis of the behaviors labeled executive functions by the general psychological community. The analysis presented here suggests practical ways in which to measure and intervene upon these repertoires, and provides directions for future research.
The Concept of Function in the Analysis of Behavior
Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno), MITCH FRYLING (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Scientific terms can be subject to great misuse, including their being used inappropriately or inconsistently within scientific disciplines. The result of this is confusion within both individual scientific disciplines as well as the field of the sciences more generally. Some terms are particularly central to happenings within scientific systems and the larger scientific community. The concept of function is one of those terms. This paper will examine the concept of function within behavior analysis, and describe implications related to the validity and significance of behavior analysis as a scientific system.
The Principle of Conjugate Reinforcement in Early and Intensive Behavioral Interventions: Implications for Treatment
SVEIN EIKESETH (Akershus College)
Abstract: The use of conjugate reinforcement was pioneered by Lindley in the late 1950. Later it was used to study infant behavior, and conjugate reinforcement has been considered important for both social and automatic reinforcement. In conjugate reinforcement, some property of a reinforcer varies systematically with some response property, as when magnitude of praise and tangibles increase with the quality of the child’s response. The current paper describes how the principle of conjugate reinforcement may be used effectively during desecrate trial teaching and national environment teaching.



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