Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis InternationalĀ® (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.

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36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

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Symposium #186
Crossing Over the Behavioral Boundaries of Gambling Research
Sunday, May 30, 2010
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Lone Star Ballroom Salon F (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Frank D. Buono (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
Abstract: An abundance of work has been conducted within an experimental analysis of gambling behavior. The purpose of the current symposium is to push the boundaries of this work in new directions that will lead to a greater impact on the larger gambling research community including those outside the field of behavior analysis. This is necessary in order to disseminate research and advance behavioral conceptualizations of gambling. The topics of the current presentations consist of assessment, both neurological and environmental, language and its relation to the maintenance of gambling behavior, and treatment of pathological gambling. These topics will be discussed both in terms of adolescent and adult problem gambling.
 
Neuroimaging of Pathological Gamblers While They Are Actually Gambling
MARK R. DIXON (Southern Illinois University), Reza Habib (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
Abstract: This presentation will present data suggesting marked differences between pathological and nonpathological gambler's brain activity while they perform gambling tasks within an fMRI scanner. To date, this is the only set of data which exists that has been captured by actual gamblers actually gambling. Beyond group differences, regularities were revealed including a near-miss effect, marked differences using real and hypothetical money, and neurological changes during extinction. Data from over 40 participants will be presented across three experiments. In one preparation gamblers earned over 200 dollars in jackpots within a 20 minute period of gambling. Another experiment exposed participants to a significant number of near-misses or almost wins. The last experiment compared gamblers pre-exposed to mindfulness therapy techniques prior to gambling to gamblers receiving no such treatment. In summary, deviating from a traditional behavioral approach to the study of pathological gambling is worth the risk. The payoff is a much larger community in which to share data, discuss behavioral approaches, and collaborate in a multidisciplinary community.
 
Toward Treatment of Pathological Gambling From a Behavior Analytic Perspective
BECKY L. NASTALLY (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Evidence based treatment should stem from three primary areas: sound assessment, empirical evidence of basic psychological processes, and stringent treatment outcome research. Widely accepted treatments for pathological gambling among both adolescents and adults have not waited to meet these criteria. Although much behavior analytic work has been done within an experimental analysis of gambling behavior, this presentation will highlight the need for treatment outcome studies that can bridge research to practice. A review of the current status of treatment for pathological gambling will be presented, both inside and outside the area of behavior analysis, along with suggestions for future research on contemporary behavioral treatments such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). These topics regarding treatment will be discussed both in terms of adolescent and adult problem gambling.
 
Defusing Rule Governed Behavior During Slot Machine Play
ALYSSA N. WILSON (Southern Illinois University Carbondale), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Components of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy have begun to disseminate out of the therapy room, into basic studies. The current study looked at one component of ACT, defusion, and its effects on rule governed behavior in slot machine play. Participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental or control group. Each group was presented with a baseline session of slot machine play, after which they stated two rules/strategies used during the gambling session. Participants in the experimental group were exposed to a defusion exercise, intended to weaken the functions of the stated strategies. Both groups then returned to the slot machine. The primary dependent measures include number of trials played and number of coins bet per gambling session. Non-pathological and pathological participants were used to understand the differences between populations. Results and implications will be discussed.
 
A Functional Analysis of Childhood Gambling: The GFA-C
NICHOLAS MUI KER LIK (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: This presentation will reveal a new behavioral assessment designed to evaluate the potential causes for childhood gambling. Based off the psychometrically tested "Gambling Functional Assessment (Dixon and Johnson, 2007), this new version is designed for children more specifically. A 20 item test will be presented that has the ability to yield the possible function for why a child may wish to gamble when the odds of winning are against him/her. Data to date suggest four distinct functions (attention, escape, sensory, and tangible) that may emerge in a varying degree for any given child gambler. Much akin to the original GFA, this new version of a screening tool for children appears to have great utility for the eventual treatment of pathological gamblers. Implications for treatment are provided as well as suggestions for future behavioral- based research using the GFA-C.
 

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