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.

  • AUT: Autism

    BPH: Behavioral Pharmacology

    CBM: Clinical/Family/Behavioral Medicine

    DEV: Behavioral Development

    EAB: Experimental Analysis of Behavior

    VRB: Verbal Behavior

34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Program by B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Events: Saturday, May 24, 2008

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #11

Massage Therapy Research

Saturday, May 24, 2008
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
International North
Area: DEV; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
TIFFANY FIELD (Touch Research Institute-University of Miami-Medical School)
is director of the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine. She is recipient of the American Psychological Association Boyd McAndless Distinguished Young Scientist Award and has had a Research Scientist Award from the NIMH for her research career. She is the author of Infancy, The Amazing Infant, Touch, Advances in Touch, Touch Therapy and Massage Therapy Research, the editor of a series of volumes on High-Risk Infants, and on Stress & Coping, and the author of over 450 journal papers.

Massage Therapy is increasingly being used as a complementary/alternative therapy not only because many people with psychological, behavioral, and physical problems are touch-deprived but also because of its therapeutic effects. Recent research suggests that massage therapy: 1) facilitates growth and development; 2) reduces depressive behavior and anxiety patterns and related stress hormones; 3) enhances sleep; 4) reduces pain; 5) reduces autoimmune disorders; and 6) enhances immune function. These effects have been noted in samples, for example, of preterm neonates, depressed children and adults, chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and migraine headaches, autoimmune problems including asthma and diabetes and immune disorders including HIV and cancer. A potential underlying mechanism is enhanced parasympathetic activity (increased vagal tone) following massage therapy, decreased stress hormones (cortisol) and increased serotonin (the bodys natural pain killer and antidepressant), in turn, leading to increased natural killer cell activity (front line of the immune system) warding off viral and cancer cells. In addition, cognitive performance is enhanced by massage therapy which may relate to changes noted in EEG patterns that are indicative of heightened alert behavior patterns. These data highlights the therapeutic effects and potential underlying mechanisms for this complementary/alternative therapy.

Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: none
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #40
CE Offered: BACB

Quantifying the Qualitative: Empirical Measures of Social Information Processing in Autism

Saturday, May 24, 2008
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
International North
Area: AUT; Domain: Theory
CE Instructor: James Charles McPartland, Ph.D.
Chair: William H. Ahearn (The New England Center for Children)
Dr. James C. McPartland is a Psychologist and Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Child Study Center. He obtained his doctoral degree in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington, where he studied autism spectrum disorders under the guidance of Dr. Geraldine Dawson. After completing autism-focused pre- and post-doctoral fellowships at the Child Study Center under the mentorship of Drs. Ami Klin, Robert Schultz, Fred Volkmar, and Kasia Chawarska, Dr. McPartland joined the faculty in 2006. He currently supervises trainees and evaluates children through the Yale Autism Resource Program. He also directs a research program using electrophysiological methods to investigate brain function in individuals with autism, with particular focus on visual perception of social information. Dr. McPartland is co-author of the book, A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism: How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive, published by Guilford Press.

Autism spectrum disorders are characterized by core impairments in social and communicative behavior. Though behavior in these domains can be subjective and difficult to measure, diagnostic assessments and outcome measures rely on accurate estimation of these skills. This lecture will review current research utilizing eye-tracking technology and recordings of brain electrophysiology to discretely measure aspects of visual attention and brain function related to social perception. The objective of this research is to develop indices of brain function and behavior that will enable assessment of social perception in infancy and will offer sensitive and discrete measures of progress during intervention.




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