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.

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  • AAB: Applied Animal Behavior

    AUT: Autism

    BPN: Behavioral Pharmacology and Neuroscience

    CSE: Community Interventions, Social and Ethical Issues

    DEV: Behavioral Development

    EAB: Experimental Analysis of Behavior

    EDC: Education

    OBM: Organizational Behavior Management

    PRA: Practice

    TBA: Teaching Behavior Analysis

    TPC: Theoretical, Philosophical, and Conceptual Issues

    VRB: Verbal Behavior

    SCI: Science

    OTH: Other

42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Program by Invited Events: Tuesday, May 31, 2016


 

Invited Paper Session #394
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

The Syncretic Analysis of Behavior (SAB)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Lucerne, Swissotel
Area: EAB; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Peter R. Killeen, Ph.D.
Chair: Eric S. Murphy (University of Alaska Anchorage)
PETER R. KILLEEN (Arizona State University)
Dr. Peter Killeen is professor of psychology at Arizona State University, and has also been visiting scholar at the University of Texas, Cambridge University, and the Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo. He is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, has held a Senior Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, has been president of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior (from which organization he appropriately received the Poetry in Science Award in 2002), held the American Psychological Association F. J. McGuigan Lectureship on Understanding the Human Mind, and received the Ernest and Josephine Hilgard Award for the Best Theoretical Paper (Killeen & Nash, 2003). Dr. Killeen has made many highly innovative and fundamental contributions to the experimental and quantitative analysis of behavior. His major work includes the development of incentive theory, culminating in the mathematical principles of reinforcement (Behavioural and Brain Sciences, 1994), and the behavioral theory of timing (Psychological Review, 1988). He is the author of 80 peer-reviewed papers, many of which have been heavily cited. He has served on the boards of editors of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Behavioural Processes, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Psychological Review, Brain & Behavioral Functions, and Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews. Dr. Killeen's quantitative and conceptual developments have enriched behavior analysis and the world beyond.
Abstract:

Any perturbation of the stream of behavior has numerous effects. Delivery of a food reinforcer will activate approach and alimentary responses, elicit search modes, and instigate species typical foraging or predation repertoires. Any correlated stimuli will become conditioned--as an occasion-setter, conditioned stimulus, discriminative stimulus, or conditioned reinforcer. If the correlation is positive those stimuli will be approached; if negative avoided. Theories of conditioning have focused on one or another of these factors; that is called analysis. Synthesis requires understanding the development of these processes, each at its own rate, and as each interacts with the others. The resulting system is complex, in that it involves dynamic networks of interactions. The degree to which responses support or compete with each other, and each with higher-level organizations, may be described with the Price Equation. The evolution of dynamic and average steady states requires other models. This lecture provides an introduction to this next step in the evolution of the experimental analysis of behavior, toward the Syncretic Approach to Behavior, SAB.

Target Audience:

Researchers in both basic and applied behavior analysis who are wondering "where next?".

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) outline in a few sentences the syncretic approach to behavior; (2) apply the syncretic approach to situations of interest to them, in laboratory or classroom; (3) discuss with peers how the syncretic approach unifies the various threads of learning theory; (4) relate the price equation to field theories such as Kantor's.
 
 
Invited Paper Session #426
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Relational Frame Theory, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: What Are the Connections?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Lucerne, Swissotel
Area: TPC; Domain: Theory
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Dermot Barnes-Holmes, Ph.D.
Chair: Yvonne Barnes-Holmes (Ghent University)
DERMOT BARNES-HOLMES (Ghent University, Belgium; National University of Ireland, Maynooth), Yvonne Barnes-Holmes (Ghent University)
Dr. Dermot Barnes-Holmes graduated from the University of Ulster in 1985 with a B.Sc. in Psychology and in 1990 with a D.Phil. in behavior analysis. His first tenured position was in the Department of Applied Psychology at University College Cork, where he founded and led the Behavior Analysis and Cognitive Science unit. In 1999 he accepted the foundation professorship in psychology and head-of-department position at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. In 2015 he accepted a life-time senior professorship at Ghent University in Belgium. Dr. Barnes-Holmes is known internationally for the analysis of human language and cognition through the development of Relational Frame Theory with Steven C. Hayes, and its application in various psychological settings. He was the world's most prolific author in the experimental analysis of human behavior between the years 1980 and 1999. He was awarded the Don Hake Translational Research Award in 2012 by the American Psychological Association, is a past president and fellow of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, is a recipient of the Quad-L Lecture Award from the University of New Mexico and most recently became an Odysseus laureate when he received an Odysseus Type 1 award from the Flemish Science Foundation in Belgium.
Abstract:

Relational frame theory (RFT) is sometimes said to provide a foundation in basic behavior analysis for acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and ACT is said to be part of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) writ large. This lecture will consider the potential role that RFT could play in grounding ACT, and perhaps some CBT concepts, in more functionally based theorizing. The first part of the lecture will argue that the so-called “middle-level terms” employed in ACT, such as acceptance, defusion, values, and self-as-context, may be seen as lacking the (functional) analytic precision that many concepts in traditional CBT also lack. This lack of functional precision is entirely understandable for CBT, given its explicitly mentalistic origins, but it could be seen as placing a question mark over the functional-analytic “credentials” of ACT. The second part of the lecture considers the argument that RFT can “rescue” ACT from its apparent lack of functional precision, and concludes that it cannot do so without additional substantive conceptual development of the theory itself. A brief outline of how this conceptual development might be realized is presented in the form of a multi-dimensional, multi-level (MDML) framework for analyzing the dynamics of relational framing as generalized relational operant behaviors.

Target Audience:

Individuals with an interest in conceptual issues pertaining to translational research, particularly in the domains of clinical behavior analysis, and human language and cognition.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) articulate why relatively functionally imprecise "middle-level" terms are employed in acceptance and commitment therapy; (2) understand some of the similarities and differences between middle-level terms and mentalistic concepts employed in traditional cognitive behavioral therapy; (3) appreciate the need for relational frame theory to develop conceptually in order to provide increased functional-analytic precision in some of the concepts employed by both ACT and CBT.
 
 
Invited Panel #427
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
VBSIG Award Winners Discuss Jack Michael's Influence on Theory, Research, and Practice
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Grand Ballroom EF, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: VRB/TPC; Domain: Theory
Chair: Caio F. Miguel (California State University, Sacramento)
CE Instructor: Caio F. Miguel, Ph.D.
Panelists: MARK L. SUNDBERG (Sundberg and Associates), DAVID C. PALMER (Smith College), HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, LA)
Abstract:

Among the behavior analysts who first appreciated the scope and power of Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior, Jack Michael has been by far the most influential. In addition to having trained many of the most prominent figures in the field, Jack relentlessly refined and sharpened Skinner's analysis over the course of five decades. In honor of his unparalleled contributions, the Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group annually acknowledges a prominent figure in the field with the Jack Michael Award. The first three winners of the award will speak about Jack's influence on their work and on the field as a whole. Among the topics they will discuss are multiple control, establishing operations, automatic reinforcement, recall, and private events.Dr. Jack Michael was born in 1926 in Los Angeles and entered UCLA in 1943, majoring in chemistry. He served two years in the US army and returned to UCLA in 1946 as a psychology major. He obtained a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at UCLA, finishing in 1955. As a graduate student, his main interests were statistical methodology, physiological psychology, and learning theory. During his first teaching job (Kansas University), he was much influenced by B. F. Skinner’sScience and Human Behaviorand, throughout his teaching career, he was primarily involved in teaching behavioral psychology (Kansas University, University of Houston, Arizona State University, and from 1967, at Western Michigan University). In 1957, as a result of influence by the rehabilitation psychologist, Lee Meyerson, Jack Michael began to apply Skinner’s approach to individuals with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and physical disabilities. During the next several years, “behavior modification” was in a period of rapid expansion and Dr. Michael contributed with his teaching, writing, and public presentations. He spent much of his academic career concerned with the technical terminology of behavior analysis, basic theory regarding motivation, and verbal behavior. He contributed to the founding of the Association for Behavior Analysis (International) in 1974 and served as its President in 1979. Among his many awards are: 1989 Western Michigan University’s Distinguished Faculty Scholar; 2002 Award for Distinguished Service to Behavior Analysis: ABAI; 2008 The Murray Sidman Award for Enduring Contributions to Behavior Analysis: Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy; 2009 Ellen P. Reese Award: Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies; 2012 Victor Laties Lifetime of Service Award: Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior (SEAB); and in 2012, he was the first recipient of the award named in his honor: The Jack Michael Outstanding Contributions in Verbal Behavior Award from the Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group at ABAI.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience: Behavior analysts and others interested in Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior, its theory, research, and practice.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the panel, the participant will be able to: (1) discuss several topics related to Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior, which Jack Michael has refined and sharpened; (2) describe how a single stimulus change can have multiple effects on verbal, nonverbal, and respondent behaviors; (3) discuss how the concept of automatic reinforcement can explain the rapid shaping of verbal behavior in children even in environments in which explicit instruction by caregivers is rare.
MARK L. SUNDBERG (Sundberg and Associates)
Mark L. Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D, received his doctorate degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University (1980), under the direction of Dr. Jack Michael. He is the author of the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP), and the initial developer and co-author of the ABLLS and the book Teaching Language to Children with Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities. He has published over 50 professional papers and 4 book chapters. He is the founder and past editor of the journal The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, a twice past-president of The Northern California Association for Behavior Analysis, a past-chair of the Publication Board of ABAI, and has served on the Board of Directors of the B. F. Skinner Foundation. Dr. Sundberg has given hundreds of conference presentations and workshops nationally and internationally, and taught 80 college and university courses on behavior analysis, verbal behavior, sign language, and child development. He is a licensed psychologist with over 40 years of clinical experience who consults for public and private schools that serve children with autism.  His awards include the 2001 “Distinguished Psychology Department Alumnus Award” from Western Michigan University, and the 2013 “Jack Michael Outstanding Contributions in Verbal Behavior Award” from ABAI’s Verbal Behavior Special Interest Group.
DAVID C. PALMER (Smith College)
With undergraduate degrees in geology and English, Dave Palmer knew nothing about behaviorism until he stumbled on Skinner’s Walden Two. He was electrified and soon became a public nuisance trying to persuade all and sundry of the merits of a behavioral interpretation of human problems. After a decade of fruitlessly attempting to start an experimental community, he turned to graduate school. He studied inter-response times and conditioned reinforcement in pigeons at the University of Massachusetts under John Donahoe in the early 1980s. Upon graduation, he took a job teaching statistics and behavior analysis at Smith College, where he remains today. His interests in behavior analysis are broad, but his main contributions have all been attempts to extend Skinner's interpretive accounts of human behavior, particularly in the domains of language, memory, problem solving, and private events. Together with John Donahoe, he authored the text, Learning and Complex Behavior, which attempts to offer a comprehensive biobehavioral account of such phenomena. He still thinks Skinner was right about nearly everything.
HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, LA)
Henry D. (Hank) Schlinger Jr. received his Ph.D. in psychology (applied behavior analysis) from Western Michigan University under the supervision of Jack Michael. He then completed a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology with Alan Poling. He was a full tenured professor of psychology at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, before moving to Los Angeles in 1998. He is now professor of psychology and former director of the M.S. Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Schlinger has published numerous scholarly articles and commentaries in 25 different journals. He also has authored or co-authored three books, Psychology: A Behavioral Overview (1990), A Behavior-Analytic View of Child Development (1995) (which was translated into Japanese), and Introduction to Scientific Psychology (1998). He is a past editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and The Behavior Analyst, and on the editorial boards of several other journals. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
 
 
Invited Panel #443
CE Offered: PSY
The Real Evolutionary Psychology: Nature-Nurture, Behavior Analysis, and the Systems Approach
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Lucerne, Swissotel
Area: TPC/DEV; Domain: Translational
Chair: Susan M. Schneider (University of the Pacific)
CE Instructor: Susan M. Schneider, Ph.D.
Panelists: SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (University of the Pacific), TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (Reed College), HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, LA)
Abstract:

Nature and nurture always work together. Genetic determinism in any form is not a viable concept. Evolution is a continuous process. Do contemporary "evolutionary psychologists" give these facts more than lip service? Some talk as if human behavior is determined (somehow) by genes that were selected 10,000 years ago and unchanged since then. Many evolutionary psychology observations can be explained more parsimoniously by the principles of behavior, mediated by a nervous system, that have been selected for just such plasticity. Indeed, behavior is both a product and a driver of evolution. Then, there are the implications of the immense flexibility in the larger biobehavioral system. The "systems" approach offers an evidence based alternative encompassing everything, including the many complex, nonlinear interactions across all levels of behavior and its development. This panel discussion compares the typical views of evolutionary psychologists with the systems approach and explores where behavior analysis fits in.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and others interested in evolutionary psychology.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) describe scientific weaknesses in typical evolutionary psychology claims; (2) explain how systems theory encompasses the entire biobehavioral system, including complex, nonlinear interactions across all levels; (3) describe how behavior principles influence and are influenced by the other system variables; (4) describe the similarities between behavior analysis and the systems approach.
SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (University of the Pacific)
Schneider's involvement in behavior analysis goes back to high school when she read Beyond Freedom and Dignity and wrote B. F. Skinner, never dreaming that he would reply.  They corresponded through her master's degree in mechanical engineering at Brown, her engineering career, and her stint in the Peace Corps.  At that point Schneider bowed to the inevitable and switched careers, obtaining her Ph.D. in 1989 (University of Kansas).  A research pioneer, she was the first to apply the generalized matching law to sequences and to demonstrate operant generalization and matching in neonates.  Her publications also cover the history and philosophy of behavior analysis and the neglected method of sequential analysis.  Schneider has championed the inclusive "developmental systems" approach to nature‑nurture relations, culminating in reviews in JEAB and The Behavior Analyst, and she has served on the editorial boards for both of those journals.  Her book, The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World, summarizes the field of operant behavior, its larger nature-nurture context, and its full range of applications.  It earned a mention in the journal Nature, was a selection of the Scientific American Book Club, and won the 2015 SABA Media Award.
TIMOTHY D. HACKENBERG (Reed College)
Tim Hackenberg received a B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine in 1982 and a doctorate in Psychology from Temple University in 1987, under the supervision of Philip Hineline. He held a post-doctoral research position at the University of Minnesota with Travis Thompson from 1988-90. He served on the faculty in the Behavior Analysis program at the University of Florida from 1990-2009, and is currently a Professor of Psychology at Reed College in Portland Oregon. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, of the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior, as Associate Editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, as President of Division 25 of the American Psychological Association, as the Experimental Representative to the ABAI Council, and as the Director of the ABAI Science Board. His major research interests are in the area of behavioral economics and comparative cognition, with a particular emphasis on decision-making and social behavior. In work funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, he and his students have developed procedures for cross-species comparisons of behavior. He is blessed with a talented cadre of students, and has the good fortune to teach courses he cares about.
HENRY D. SCHLINGER (California State University, LA)
Henry D. (Hank) Schlinger Jr. received his Ph.D. in psychology (applied behavior analysis) from Western Michigan University under the supervision of Jack Michael. He then completed a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded post-doctoral fellowship in behavioral pharmacology with Alan Poling. He was a full tenured professor of psychology at Western New England University in Springfield, MA, before moving to Los Angeles in 1998. He is now professor of psychology and former director of the M.S. Program in Applied Behavior Analysis in the Department of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Schlinger has published numerous scholarly articles and commentaries in 25 different journals. He also has authored or co-authored three books, Psychology: A Behavioral Overview (1990), A Behavior-Analytic View of Child Development (1995) (which was translated into Japanese), and Introduction to Scientific Psychology (1998). He is a past editor of The Analysis of Verbal Behavior and The Behavior Analyst, and on the editorial boards of several other journals. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.
Keyword(s): Evolution
 
 
Invited Paper Session #488
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Behavior Analysis and Public Policy

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Grand Ballroom AB, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Domain: Applied Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Joao Claudio Todorov, Ph.D.
Chair: Mark A. Mattaini (Jane Addams College of Social Work-University of Illinois at Chicago)
JOÃO CLAUDIO TODOROV (Universidade de Brasilia)
Dr. Todorov received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University. He held faculty positions at the University of Virginia at Fredericksburg and the University of São Paulo at Riberiao Preto before his appointment at the University of Brasília in 1973, where he has spent most of his career. Retired since 200o, he is professor emeritus and also still serves as a researcher. From 2000–2009, he was a professor at the Catholic University of Goiás. Dr. Todorov’s career as a behavior analyst includes a remarkable range of achievements in research, education, and service to his discipline and his country. At Brasília, Dr. Todorov served variously as department chair, dean of graduate studies and research, vice-president, and president of the university, all while leading generations of Brazilians to behavior analytic research and academic careers that continue his legacy, and helping to secure a place for behavior analysis in the nation’s academic governance. His scholarly contributions span important basic research topics (e.g., multiple and concurrent schedules, avoidance, and pharmacology), applications to the solution of societal problems—his more recent focus, and dissemination of behavior analysis to the public (with more than 150 articles in the Brazilian media). Dr. Todorov’s many contributions have been widely recognized—by the Brazilian government with the Cross of the Ordem de Rio Branco, by SABA with the Award for International Dissemination of Behavior Analysis, and by an award from the Ibero-American Federation of Psychological Associations.
Abstract:

Large-scale changes in cultural practices happen due to natural accidents and/or government intervention. Democracy requires planning and the programming of positive consequences for change. The possibility of counter control limits the use of coercion. Behavior analysis have been useful as a resource to correct and/or devise programs. This work presents examples of interventions in programs used by Brazilian governments to change the behavior of millions of its citizens, in situations like the conditional transfer of income, reforestation, city transit, life in prisons, and dengue control.

Target Audience:

Behavior analysts and students who are interested in learning about and practicing in the area of large-scale public policy.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) describe several examples of successful applications of behavior analytic principles to public policy; (2) provide a conceptual rationale for the application of reinforcement-based methods within public policy efforts; (3) explain the importance of the integration of complete contingencies (antecedent, behavior, reinforcer) into public law and policy.
 
 
Invited Paper Session #516
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Treatment Implementation in Child Behavior Therapy and Education

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Grand Ballroom AB, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: PRA; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: George H. Noell, Ph.D.
Chair: Mark D. Shriver (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
GEORGE H. NOELL (Louisiana State University)
Dr. George H. Noell is a professor of psychology at Louisiana State University and Director of the doctoral program in school psychology. His research has focused on improving the quality and implementation of treatment plans for children in need of behavior therapy and academic intervention. Dr. Noell has been engaged in educational policy work that has sought to develop data analytic systems that time sensitive and long term policy making. He has been engaged with partners in Louisiana and nationally examining methods for assessing the quality of teacher preparation. Dr. Noell’s scholarship has been acknowledged by election to scholarly societies, awards, research journal editorial board appointments, and an appointment as editor-in-chief.
Abstract:

The existing scientific literature strongly suggests that the most effective interventions for children and youth typically require active implementation of treatment in their natural environments by in-vivo care providers. These findings align with the practice of applied behavior analysis. Research over the last two decades in particular has demonstrated that simply providing care providers verbal directions is frequently insufficient to assure treatment implementation. This session will focus on findings relevant to assuring implementation of intervention plans in the natural environment with a particular focus on teachers as the treatment agents. The session will describe conceptual issues surrounding the assessment and assurance of treatment integrity in applied settings. Additionally, the session will review findings regarding procedures that have been found to be effective across studies in supporting intervention implementation as well as often repeated hypotheses about factors mediating treatment implementation that have not been supported by data. The session will conclude with a focus on future directions and the application of a behavior analytic science of treatment implementation across contexts.

Target Audience:

Practitioners and researchers interested in the challenges of treatment implementation in the natural environment and the development of a behavior analytic approach to implementation.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) distinguish between treatment integrity as an experimental and applied construct; (2) identify effective evidence based procedures to support treatment implementation; (3) distinguish between plausible hypotheses that have been advanced around treatment implementation and functional relationships that have been demonstrated.
 
 
Invited Paper Session #536
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Emergent Relations and Stimulus Class Formation

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Lucerne, Swissotel
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Thomas Zentall, Ph.D.
Chair: Thomas Zentall (University of Kentucky)
PETER URCUIOLI (Purdue University)
Peter Urcuioli is Professor of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of New Hampshire where he worked with John A. (Tony) Nevin, and his Master's degree and Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia, Canada) where he was a graduate student of Werner K. (Vern) Honig. After a two-year postdoctoral stint with Anthony (Tony) Wright at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, Peter joined the Purdue University faculty in 1981. His research has been funded almost continuously by the NIH and NSF since 1983, and he has over 70 peer-reviewed articles in a wide variety of journals on topics in the areas of discrimination learning and stimulus control, differential outcome mechanisms, animal memory, spatial compatibility, and acquired equivalence. His most recent, groundbreaking work on stimulus-class formation in pigeons has revealed a wide range of rarely and never-before-seen categorization effects in non-human animals. In addition, Peter has proposed an innovative theory of stimulus-class formation that explains and predicts these effects from basic assumptions about stimulus control and reinforcement processes.
Abstract:

The ability to categorize physically dissimilar stimuli such as objects, words, etc., is characteristic of normal intellectual development. Categorization is evident in the emergence of “untrained” behavior and novel stimulus control relations after explicit training on other relations. It is also an ability that does not require language, as Dr. Urcuioli's research shows. After highlighting the long-recognized importance of categorization and equivalence in behavior theory, the presentation will describe how sets of interchangeable stimuli (viz., stimulus classes) can develop from conditional discrimination training in pigeons. Class formation is inferred from pigeons’ subsequent ability to respond in a class-consistent manner to new combinations of the baseline stimuli, including derived stimulus-stimulus relations rarely seen in non-human animals (e.g., associative symmetry). The presenter will also describe his theory of stimulus class formation (Urcuioli, 2008) which emphasizes the reinforcement contingencies of training, proper identification of the functional stimuli, and the combinatorial effect of the same functional stimuli in different trained relations. The theory successfully explains the conditions under which emergent relations have, and have not been, observed and accurately predicts a variety of novel equivalence-like relations.

Target Audience:

Licensed Psychologists, certified behavior analysts, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) describe what constitutes an emergent relation and a stimulus class, the types of reinforced training experiences from which they develop, and how class formation is demonstrated; (2) recognize the importance of equivalence and stimulus class formation in behavior analysis and theory dating back to the 1930s; (3) cite newly demonstrated equivalence effects in animals without language, and the reinforcement and stimulus control assumptions of a theory that explains these effects.
 

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