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.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Special Event #79
SQAB Tutorial: Pavlovian Conditioning: It Is Not About the CR But About Modification of a Biobehavioral System
Saturday, May 26, 2012
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
608 (Convention Center)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Doug Williams (University of Winnipeg)
Presenting Authors: : MICHAEL DOMJAN (University of Texas)

The paradigm example of Pavlovian conditioning is a dog salivating to a cue that occurs before the delivery of meat powder. Because conditioned salivation (the conditioned response or CR) reflects an association of the cue and the meat powder, Pavlovian conditioning became a favorite method of scientists whose primary interest was to elucidate the mechanisms of association learning. I will argue that this focus on a target conditioned response or respondent misses the broader biological significance of Pavlovian conditioning, which is to enable organisms to interact more effectively with significant biological events or unconditioned stimuli (USs). The broader perspective suggests that Pavlovian conditioning produces a wide range of behavioral and physiological adjustments that enable the organism not only to better prepare for the impending occurrence of the unconditioned stimulus but to also deal with the US more effectively at both the behavioral and physiological level. Thus, Pavlovian conditioning produces a reorganization of the biobehavioral system that is activated by the US. This broader perspective will be illustrated with examples from appetitive, aversive, and sexual conditioning.

MICHAEL DOMJAN (University of Texas)
Michael Domjan is Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been teaching  since 1973. He was introduced to applied behavioral analysis at the Behavior Science Institute at Western Michigan University, before going on to obtain a Ph.D. in Biopsycholgy at McMaster University. At McMaster he worked with Shepard Siegel, who encouraged him to think more broadly about issues related to Pavlovian conditioning. Since then, Domjan has become noted for his functional approach to Pavlovian conditioning, which he has pursued in studies of sexual conditioning and taste aversion learning. He served as Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes and was recipient of the G. Stanley Hall Award from the American Psychological Association and a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Mental Health. At the University of Texas, he was Chair of the Psychology Department from 1999 to 2005, and was the founding Director of the University’s Imaging Research Center from 2005-2008. Domjan is a past President of the Pavlovian Society of North America and also served as President of the Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology of the American Psychological Association. His textbook, Principles of Learning and Behavior, is now in its 6th edition and has been widely used for the past 30 years in the United States, Canada, and various countries in Europe and South America.
Keyword(s): Pavlovian conditioning



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