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 #318
CE Offered: BACB
Practical, Inexpensive, and Easy-to-Program USB Interfacing: Recording and Control of External Equipment
Monday, May 30, 2016
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Zurich FG, Swissotel
Area: EAB/TBA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Rogelio Escobar (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
Discussant: Monica Vandbakk (Norwegian Association for Behavior Analysis/Oslo and Akershus University College)
CE Instructor: Rogelio Escobar, Psy.D.

Costly, bulky, and complicated interface equipment between computers and experimental equipment may no longer be needed for experiments and application. Modern computers feature several USB ports, and low-cost interface equipment that connects directly to a USB port is available from several vendors. Rudimentary understanding of programming code enables the user to control the interface to turn lights, sounds, and feeders on and off and to record responses via switches and photo sensors. Several programming languages can be used to implement control of equipment and recording of responses via the USB interface. The presentation will feature the particular interface and programming platforms used in different laboratories and in a zoological garden. Programs written in Visual Basic Net or Liberty Basic using relatively simple code read inputs and controls outputs from the interfaces. The presentations will illustrate the practical use of the interface devises both in teaching and research laboratories (where each experimental chamber has its own interface and PC). In addition, we will show how the USB interface is being used for research in a zoological garden to operate feeders and record a variety of responses in different species of animals. Using small notebook computers, the setup is easily transported for application purposes. Having one individual PC with one individual interface connect to one equipment setup creates considerable flexibility both in research and application and voids the need for complex systems that rely on expensive equipment and professional programming.

Keyword(s): Interface, Visual Basic
New Ways to Build Old Devices for Operant Research: Developments for the Arduino-Visual Basic Interface
ROGELIO ESCOBAR (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Irving Hernández-López (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Nadia Santillán (UNAM)
Abstract: High cost of commercial equipment has been the impetus for creating inexpensive devices to control experiments in operant research. Escobar and Pérez-Herrera (2015) described a control interface based on the popular Arduino boards. According to the design, an operant chamber is controlled with an Arduino board that communicates to a program in Visual Basic running on a PC. This Visual Basic program is used to generate schedules of reinforcement. Arduino boards can be used to control a variety of sensors and motors, in most cases, just by plugging the devices to the board and changing a few lines of code. Furthermore, adding 3D printing technology could allow researchers to design and build numerous devices for operant research. This presentation will describe three examples of devices commonly used in operant experiments that can be controlled with the Arduino-Visual basic interface. An inexpensive photocell composed of an infrared LED and a phototransistor, a retractable lever using a servo motor and a 3D printed case, and a peristaltic pump that delivers precise amounts of water reinforcement. The results of precision tests will be described, and the instructions for building these devices and for downloading free-distribution programs will be provided.

Low-Cost Portable Equipment Based on Arduino for Laboratory Courses on Operant Conditioning

CARLOS ALEXIS PEREZ HERRERA (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Irving Hernández-López (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Rogelio Escobar (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Laboratory courses are an essential supplement to classes on behavior analysis. High-cost of control equipment, however, limits the creation of laboratories for teaching purposes. Microcontroller boards can be used as inexpensive alternatives to commercial equipment not only for demonstrating the basic principles of behavior in classrooms but also for teaching basic electronics. We have developed and tested two portable systems based on Arduino microcontroller boards that can be used for controlling operant conditioning chambers for rats in the classroom. One system consists of an app (Ratuino Mobile) running on an Android tablet or smart phone. This app communicates via Bluetooth with an Arduino board connected to an operant chamber. Within the app, students select different reinforcement schedules that are executed automatically. A second system consists of using Arduino boards as standalone control equipment. An Arduino board is connected to an operant chamber and to a keypad. Students control stimuli by pressing buttons. Experimental events are automatically recorded using an SD card. The two systems were assembled by the students during the courses. These systems are inexpensive, relatively easy to setup, and could help students experiencing first-hand the basic principles of behavior by bringing the laboratory to the classroom.

Basic Research Examples Using the Ontrak ADU208 Interface
IVER H. IVERSEN (University of North Florida), Per Holth (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences)
Abstract: The Ontrak ADU208 interface relay can be used to record operations of several different operanda and to turn different stimuli on and off in basic research. Examples of operanda include standard levers, chains, poles, photo cells, and stimuli (Sd’s and reinforcers) include lights, sounds, smells, and a diversity of dispensers. We will also present some simple programming text lines from liberty basic and from visual basic, to demonstrate how environmental events can be relatively easily recorded and controlled and contingencies can be designed by the use of the Ontrak ADU208 interface relay.

Examples From the Zoo: Operanda and Recordings

PER HOLTH (Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences), Iver H. Iversen (University of North Florida)

Operanda placed in the zoo include different levers for chimpanzees and for tigers, chains for orangoutans, keys for hens, and a tongue switch for giraffes, and stimuli controlled from the computer (Sds and reinforcers) include lights, sounds, smells, and a diversity of dispensers. We will also show some simple programming text lines from visual basic, to demonstrate how behavior can be recorded in cumulative records and in event records.




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