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.


37th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2011

Event Details

Previous Page


Invited Tutorial #402
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Behavior Economics, Genes and Cannabinoids: Environmental and Biochemical Contributors to Food Reward in the Context of Obesity
Monday, May 30, 2011
1:30 PM–2:20 PM
401/402 (Convention Center)
Area: BPH/EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Erin Rasmussen, Ph.D.
Chair: Karen G. Anderson (West Virginia University)
Presenting Authors: : ERIN B. RASMUSSEN (Idaho State University)

Obesity is the result of a long-term pattern of a situation in which food is especially reinforcing and exercise is not. The cannabinoid neurotransmitter system plays a role in food reinforcement and obesity, though much of the research on this is limited to free-food intake as a dependent variable. This presentation will review findings from our laboratory in two areas. One, we will describe attempts to isolate behavioral mechanisms involved with food reinforcement in animal and human studies using behavioral economic experiments, including demand analysis, the delay discounting procedure, and choice. Two, we will discuss the role of cannabinoid drugs (e.g., rimonabant and 2-AG) on food reinforcement, food-associated stimuli, and exercise as a reinforcer. Throughout the presentation, we will include data from the obese Zucker rat, a genetic model of obesity, to illustrate genetically-influenced differences in food and exercise reinforcement, as well as behavioral sensitivities to cannabinoid drugs. A pattern from these studies emerges: the more effortful the arrangement of food is, the less genes play a role in food consumption.

ERIN B. RASMUSSEN (Idaho State University)
Dr. Erin B. Rasmussen is an associate professor of psychology at Idaho State University. She conducts research on the behavioral pharmacology and behavioral economics of food and exercise reinforcement using animal models of obesity, as well as humans, with special emphasis on drugs that affect the cannabinoid and opioid neurotransmitter systems. She has published her research in such journals as the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, Behavioural Pharmacology, and Behavioural Processes. She is the current president of the Four Corners Association for Behavior Analysis. Dr. Rasmussen received her PhD in 2001 from Auburn University under the direction of Dr. Christopher Newland. She previously served on the faculty of the College of Charleston (2001-2004).



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh