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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #280
CE Offered: BACB
Out of the Organism and Into the Lab: Contemporary Basic Research on Motivating Operations
Monday, May 30, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Zurich D, Swissotel
Area: EAB/TPC; Domain: Translational
Chair: Matthew Lewon (University of Nevada, Reno)
Discussant: Alan D. Poling (Western Michigan University)
CE Instructor: Matthew Lewon, M.A.
Abstract: There has been much recent interest in motivating operations (MOs) in the applied wing of behavior analysis, and this is likely due to the fact that MOs exert a ubiquitous influence on behavior in real-world circumstances. Within the laboratory, motivational variables are more easily controlled and are therefore sometimes overlooked as independent variables in their own right. Perhaps because of this, contemporary basic behavior analytic research on MOs has lagged somewhat behind applied research on the topic. Nevertheless, important basic research on MOs is currently being conducted, and the purpose of this symposium is to highlight some of this research. The presentations in this symposium will describe recent developments in the experimental analysis of motivation, including investigations pertaining to the relationship between MOs and stimulus discrimination and generalization, the relevance of Pavlovian conditioning to the study of motivation, and the importance of MOs in the evaluation of the behavioral characteristics of transgenic mouse models of human disease.
Keyword(s): basic research, establishing operations, motivating operations, motivation
The Effects of Establishing and Abolishing Operations on Stimulus Control
AMIN LOTFIZADEH (Easter Seals Southern California/Western Michigan )
Abstract: Studies have found that stimulus control, as evident in generalization gradients, changes when the organism is deprived more or less of the relevant reinforcers. Drug-discrimination studies, however, have not revealed such an effect consistently. A procedural detail that may account for this inconsistency is that deprivation was reduced relative to the training condition in most drug-discrimination studies. Recently, we examined how substantially increasing deprivation affects d-amphetamine discrimination in non-humans. Rats initially were trained to discriminate d-amphetamine (1.0 mg/kg) from vehicle (0 mg/kg) injections under 22-h food deprivation conditions. Dose–response gradients were then obtained under 22-h and 46-h deprivation levels. The ED50 was significantly higher with greater deprivation. This finding suggests that increasing motivation relative to the training condition may reduce stimulus control by drugs, while decreasing it may improve discrimination. This phenomenon was subsequently examined in an observational study to see if the results generalize to human performance, particularly batters' performance in professional baseball as a function of specific establishing operations (EOs).
Pavlovian-Instrumental Transfer and Establishing Operations
TIMOTHY EDWARDS (University of Waikato)
Abstract: Conditioned stimulus presentations can function as establishing operations in that they often result in a momentary increase in the efficacy of relevant reinforcers and an increase in the strength of responses that previously produced those reinforcers. The relevance of respondent conditioning to establishing operations has been noted in much of the literature dealing with establishing operations on the conceptual level. However, little relevant experimental research has been carried out. Data from two experimental arrangements designed to study the effects of conditioned stimulus presentations on response strength and reinforcer efficacy with rats will be presented. Because discriminative stimuli are likely to have respondent functions, presentations of discriminative stimuli are also likely to function as establishing operations. On a conceptual level, the distinction between discriminative stimulus functions and establishing operations remains. In practice, however, the respondent functions of discriminative stimuli have important implications. These implications and examples of the relevance of this analysis to applied settings will be discussed.
Motivational Characteristics of the mdx Mouse Model of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
CHRISTINA M. PETERS (University of Nevada, Reno), Matthew Lewon (University of Nevada, Reno), Pam Van Ry (University of Nevada School of Medicine), Dean Burkin (University of Nevada School of Medicine), Kenneth W. Hunter (University of Nevada School of Medicine), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Geneticists have engineered a variety of transgenic knockout mice to serve as animal models for human diseases. One such model, the mdx mouse, is used extensively for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) research. While the mdx mouse has been utilized effectively to research various cellular and muscular deficits associated with DMD, attempts to identify behavioral differences between mdx and wild-type (WT) control mice using behavioral neuroscience methods have been unsuccessful. The identification of such differences is important for the evaluation of the effects of preclinical treatments for DMD. The present paper will describe an attempt to evaluate the behavior of the mdx mouse through operant conditioning procedures including but not limited to a delayed non-matching to position task (DNMTP) and escape/avoidance of loud noise. The main finding of this research was that food deprivation and aversive stimulation appeared to have differential motivational effects on mdx relative to WT mice. We will describe these differences and discuss the implications of such findings for behavioral research using nonhuman models of human disease. Potential benefits of this type of interdisciplinary collaboration will also be discussed.
Reassessing the Value-Altering Function: Motivating Operations, Extinction, and Stimulus Discrimination
MATTHEW LEWON (University of Nevada, Reno), Linda J. Parrott Hayes (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Two classes of antecedent conditions affect the probability of response at any given moment: discriminative stimuli and motivating operations (MOs). While a conceptual distinction between these two classes of events has been maintained, they are both always concurrently operating and function together to evoke behavior. Nevertheless, relatively little is known about the interaction of these two types of events in the development of stimulus control. We will present a combination of data obtained from experimentation we have conducted as well as conceptual analyses drawing from data appearing in the literature to suggest that MOs contribute to the development of discriminated responding by differentially affecting stimuli correlated with either the availability or unavailability of reinforcement. Specifically, greater motivational levels appear to increase the evocative efficacy of stimuli correlated with the availability of reinforcement while simultaneously increasing the extent to which responding is suppressed in the presence of stimuli correlated with the unavailability of reinforcement. This suggests that motivational level during extinction is particularly important in bringing responding under discriminative control. The implications of this analysis will be discussed with regard to the putative value-altering function of MOs.



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