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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Program by B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Events: Monday, May 26, 2014

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #328
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

From Action to Interaction to Learning: How Parental Responsiveness Promotes Children's Language Development

Monday, May 26, 2014
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: VRB; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Anna I. Petursdottir, Ph.D.
Chair: Anna I. Petursdottir (Texas Christian University)
Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda is a professor of developmental psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and director of the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education. Her research examines infants’ developing language, play, cognition, motor skills, and social understanding across the first four years of life, with a focus on reciprocal associations among emerging skills. Of special interest are the social and cultural contexts of early skill development, especially the ways in which mothers’ and fathers’ interactions with children shape children’s developmental trajectories in different populations within the United States and internationally. She uses multiple methods in her research (naturalistic, observational, experimental, surveys, qualitative interviews, and direct child assessments), and is an expert on the microanalysis of real-time behavioral interactions between infants and parents. This research highlights how infants’ engagements with the world function to elicit “contingently responsive” input from parents, which in turn facilitates language learning and development. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development, National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, Administration for Children and Families, the Ford Foundation, and the Robinhood Foundation. Dr. Tamis-LeMonda has more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books, and has co-edited the volumes Child Psychology: A Handbook of Contemporary Issues, Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, and The Development of Social Cognition and Communication.

Parent-infant interaction is the primary context in which infants learn culturally valued skills. In the domain of language development, parental verbal responsiveness has consistently been found to promote infants' learning of new words. Why might this be? Here, the speaker will highlight several features of responsiveness that explain these parent-child associations: (1) Responsive behaviors are temporally connected (contiguous) and dependent upon (contingent) infant actions (i.e., exploratory or communicative behaviors), and thereby facilitate infants' mapping of words to their referents; (2) Parents are more likely to use lexically rich language in response to infant actions than in the presence of infant off-task behaviors; (3) Responsive behaviors are multi-modal in their structures, thereby provide infants with physical cues (e.g., gestures) to the words that are spoken. These principles have been demonstrated in several longitudinal studies of infant-parent interactions in families from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds (e.g. European-American, African-American, and Dominican and Mexican immigrants). Frame-by-frame coding is applied to video-recorded interactions to examine how mothers respond ("response type") to specific infant behaviors ("infant-given behavior"), and relate "infant-to-mother behavioral sequences" to children's current and later language skills. The developmental significance of parental responsiveness is observed across cultural communities and reflects universal processes of early language learning.

Target Audience:

Behavior analysis researchers, graduate students, and practitioners.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this event, participants should be able to (1) Understand why the first years of life (infancy) are foundational to later learning and school readiness, and how parents can promote early language development; (2) Understand the value of "microgenetic" coding systems for documenting the real-time process of learning seen in infant-parent interactions; and (3) Discuss how and why early learning processes generalize across cultural communities that otherwise might differ along several meaningful dimensions (e.g., parental education, income, beliefs, and practices).
Keyword(s): infants, language development, parental responsiveness
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #346
CE Offered: PSY

Reward, Reinforcement, and the Neural Bases of Decision-Making

Monday, May 26, 2014
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Bernard Balleine, Ph.D.
Chair: Federico Sanabria (Arizona State University)
BERNARD BALLEINE (The University of Sidney)
Dr. Bernard Balleine received his B.A. with first-class honors and with the University Medal from the University of Sydney in 1987 and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1992. He was made a fellow of Jesus College Cambridge in 1992 and conducted post-doctoral research in neuroscience in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Cambridge University until 1995. He was then appointed assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1996, given tenure in 2000, and made a full professor at UCLA in 2004. He was elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association in 2004 and appointed director of research in the Brain Research Institute at UCLA in 2005. In 2009, Dr. Balleine received an inaugural Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship and was appointed to a professorial position at the University of Sydney establishing the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory in the Brain & Mind Research Institute there in early 2010. Dr. Balleine's research is focused on the psychological and neural bases of decision-making and has been instrumental in establishing the processes determining the acquisition of and choice between goal-directed actions, the development of habits and the reward and reinforcement processes that suport these fundamental classes of behavior.

Recent studies point to a number of learning and modulatory processes that contribute to food-seeking. Distinct learning processes mediate the acquisition of goal-directed and habitual actions and are subserved by parallel circuits involving the dorsomedial and dorsolateral striatum, respectively. In addition, food can function as an incentive, to reward actions, and as a reinforcer, to strengthen habits. Evidence suggests that two forms of incentive process affect food seeking: (i) the experienced value of a particular food based on consummatory experience, and (ii) the predicted value of a particular action based on cues that predict food delivery. Although incentive theories generally assume that these processes are mediated by a common associative mechanism, a number of recent findings suggest that they are dissociable behaviorally, anatomically, and neurochemically. The latter predictive learning process also may play a role in habitual food-seeking, particularly in the function of the reinforcement signal, long ascribed to the dopaminergic input to dorsolateral striatum which we have found is heavily regulated by the central amygdala. As the basolateral amygdala is heavily involved in reward processing, it appears the amygdala plays the generally role of parsing food events into the reward and reinforcement signals that support goal-directed and habitual action control, respectively.

Target Audience:

Behavior analysts interested in the neurobiological underpinnings of learning and motivation, and their implications for theories of reinforcement.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to (1) Articulate the difference between habitual and goal-directed action in behavioral terms; (2) Identify the neural mechanisms underlying reward and reinforcement processing; (3) Explain why theories of reward and reinforcement based on single associative mechanisms are insufficient.
Keyword(s): basolateral amygdala, dorsolateral striatum, goal-directed behavior, habit formation
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #377
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Thinking Scientifically about Clinical Psychology: A Prescription for Narrowing the Science-Practice Gap

Monday, May 26, 2014
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: TPC; Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Edward K. Morris, Ph.D.
Chair: Edward K. Morris (The University of Kansas)
SCOTT O. LILIENFELD (Emory University)
Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld is a professor of psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He received his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1982 and his Ph.D. in psychology (clinical) from the University of Minnesota in 1990. Dr. Lilienfeld is associate editor of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, past president of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, and current president of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy. Dr. Lilienfeld has published more than 300 manuscripts on personality disorders, dissociative disorders, psychiatric classification, pseudoscience in psychology, and evidence-based practices in clinical psychology. His 2010 book, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, examines a host of widespread misunderstandings regarding human behavior. His most recent book, Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience, was published in 2013, and is co-authored with psychiatrist Sally Satel. Dr. Lilienfeld is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and (along with Dr. Hal Arkowitz) a regular columnist for Scientific American Mind magazine. In 1998, Dr. Lilienfeld received the David Shakow Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Clinical Psychology from APA Division 12, and in 2007, he was elected as a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

Dr. Lilienfeld will begin by laying out the magnitude and scope of the science-practice gap in clinical psychology and allied fields, which refers to striking disjunction between the research evidence for intervention and assessment techniques, on the one hand, and their use in everyday clinical practice, on the other. He will then examine both the distal and proximal sources of this gap, including the resistance to systematic research evidence, with a particular eye on commonplace errors in reasoning to which all of us are prone (e.g., naive realism, confirmation bias, and illusory correlation). In addition, he will discuss the perils of neurocentrism--the assumption that the brain-based level of analysis is inherently more important than other levels of analysis in understanding human behavior--and its implications for research and practice in clinical psychology. He will close with a plea for curricular reform designed to inculcate “fallible humility”--an awareness of our own strengths and limitations as information processors--in the next generation of students.

Target Audience:

Researchers, practitioners, instructors, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates interested in clinical psychology.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the event, participants should be able to (1) Describe the nature and magnitude of the science-practice gap in mental health, including survey statistics on practitioners' use of evidence-based interventions; (2) Identify important sources of this gap, including impediments in reasoning (e.g., naive realism, confirmation bias) and reasons for resistance to scientific evidence; and (3) Understand the dangers or potential dangers of neurocentrism as an approach to understanding human behavior.
B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #400
CE Offered: BACB

Why Brains Are Not Computers; Why Behaviorism Isn't Satanism; and Why Dolphins Are Not Aquatic Apes

Monday, May 26, 2014
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Timothy D. Hackenberg, Ph.D.
Chair: Timothy D. Hackenberg (Reed College)
LOUISE BARRETT (University of Lethbridge)
Louise Barrett was educated at University College London and earned a BSc in ecology and a Ph.D. in anthropology. She has conducted long-term studies of baboons and vervet monkeys in South Africa and also is interested in the behavioral ecology and psychology of human primates. She has held positions at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom and University of Natal in South Africa. Dr. Barrett is currently a Canada research chair in cognition, evolution, and behavior at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. Her most recent book is Beyond the Brain: How Body and Environment Shape Animal and Human Minds.

Modern psychology has, to all intents and purposes, become synonymous with cognitive psychology, with its emphasis on the idea that the brain is some kind of computer, whose job it is to take sensory input, process information, and produce motor output. In particular, evolutionary approaches to psychology, as applied to both human and nonhuman animals, are strongly committed to this computational theory of mind, placing the brain at a remove from both the body and environment, and denying the intimate connections that exist between them. As a result, a great injustice is done to both humans and nonhuman animals: on the one hand, we fail to recognize the distinctive nature of nonhuman cognition, and on the other, we continue to promote a somewhat misleading view of human psychological capacities. Here, Dr. Barrett will suggest a more mutualistic, embodied, enactive view might allow us to ask more interesting questions about how animals of all kinds come to know their worlds, in ways that avoid both the (inevitable) anthropocentric baggage and “Cartesian disease” of the cognitivist viewpoint.

Keyword(s): nonhuman cognition



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