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.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #168
CE Offered: BACB
Tutorial: Integrating Functional Analytic and Genetic Methods to Study Gene-Environment-Behavior Relations in Autism
Sunday, May 25, 2008
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
International North
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Research
BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Wayne W. Fisher, Ph.D.
Chair: Jeffrey H. Tiger (Louisiana State University)
Presenting Authors: : WAYNE W. FISHER (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)

The completion of the human-genome map holds great potential for extending our understanding of gene-environment-behavior relations and behavior disorders. However, this potential can be fully realized only if the advances in genetic diagnostics are accompanied by advances in behavioral analyses that accurately characterize behavioral phenotypes. For example, in behavioral genetic studies, important behavioral phenomena seen in children with autism (e.g., echolalia, stereotypy, self-injurious behavior) are often phenotyped by a small number of items on a behavioral rating scale. This simplistic and structural approach to behavioral phenotyping often lacks precision and, more importantly, it overlooks the extent to which genes interact with environmental contingencies to influence the expression of aberrant behavior in autism (e.g., genetically mediated sensitivity to social escape as negative reinforcement for problem behavior). Functional analysis, on the other hand, provides a precise method of quantifying both the topographical and functional properties of aberrant behaviors. The accurate characterization of behavioral phenotypes using functional analysis methods should increase the power of analyses designed to identify genes that affect aberrant behavior in autism. This presentation will focus on how functional analysis methods may be used to better characterize behavioral phenotypes in autism and related disorders.

WAYNE W. FISHER (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Dr. Wayne Fisher is the H.B. Munroe Professor of Behavioral Research in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Director of the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the Munroe-Meyer Institute. He was previously a Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and served as Executive Director of the Neurobehavioral Programs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (Baltimore) and the Marcus Behavior Center at the Marcus Institute (Atlanta), where he built clinical-research programs in autism and developmental disabilities with national reputations for excellence. Dr. Fisher’s methodologically sophisticated research has focused on several intersecting lines, including preference, choice, and the assessment and treatment of autism and severe behavior disorders, that have been notable for the creative use of concurrent schedules of reinforcement, which have become more commonplace in clinical research primarily as a result of his influence. He has published over 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is past Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, a Fellow in the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and recipient of the APA (Division 25) award for distinguished contributions to applied research.



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