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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #30
Quantitative Models: What Use are They for Applied Behavior Analysts?
Saturday, May 27, 2017
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 5-7
Area: CBM; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jennifer J. McComas (University of Minnesota)
Discussant: David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa)

Quantitative models have been used primarily by basic researchers to understand basic behavioral processes. However, with the increasing interest in translational research, quantitative analyses seem to have an increased relevance for applied behavior analysts. The question is under what conditions do quantitative analyses have utility for the work of applied behavior analysts? The symposium will feature presentations by four researchers followed by comments by a discussant. First, Brian Martens will present on the dynamics of choice in preschoolers' behavior in a natural setting. Next, Brian Greer's presentation will focus on the use of behavioral momentum theory to mitigate treatment relapse following functional communication treatment of challenging behavior of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The third presenter, Christopher Podlesnik, will discuss how quantitative models can aid in predicting how environmental events will interact with behavioral processes to produce behavioral outputs. The final presenter, Derek Reed, will present on behavioral economics, with particular focus on analysis of reinforcer demand in natural settings and its implications for work in educational settings. David Wacker will serve as discussant.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): quantitative models, translational research
Choice in Transition: Replication and Extension to Preschool Children in a Naturalistic Setting
(Applied Research)
BRIAN K. MARTENS (Syracuse University), Tonya LeAnn Lambert (Virginia Institute of Autism), William Sullivan (Syracuse University), Jennifer Magnuson (Syracuse University), Rebecca Womack (Independent Consultant), Samantha Sallade (Syracuse University), Emily L. Baxter (Syracuse University)
Abstract: The generalized matching equation describes behavior allocations following extended exposure to concurrent schedules, but says nothing about the dynamics of choice for behavior in transition. This study extended previous basic research into the dynamics of choice to children’s behavior in a naturalistic setting. Two preschoolers with disabilities were exposed to four pairs of concurrent variable-interval schedules of adult attention with relative reinforcer rates for on- and off-task behavior of 10:1, 1:1, 1:10, and a reversal back to 10:1. We used the generalized matching equation to model steady-state behavior at the end of the transition phases and to evaluate changes in sensitivity at various points throughout the phases. Choice in transition was evaluated by plotting log behavior ratios by session, cumulated time on- and off-task and cumulated attention for on- and off-task behavior by session, and interreinforcer behavior ratios following different sequences of the first four reinforcer deliveries. Sensitivity values increased steadily throughout the phases, transition patterns were similar to those reported in basic research, and interreinforcer preference generally shifted toward the just-reinforced alternative. These findings support generality of the dynamics of choice to children’s on- and off-task behavior reinforced by adult attention.

Strategies to Mitigate the Recurrence of Problem Behavior Following Functional Communication Training

(Basic Research)
BRIAN D. GREER (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne W. Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Ashley Marie Fuhrman (University of Nebraska Medical Center), Katie Lichtblau (University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Functional communication training (FCT) has strong empirical support for its use when treating socially reinforced problem behavior. However, treatment effects often deteriorate when FCT procedures are challenged, leading to the recurrence of problem behavior, decreased use of the functional communication response (FCR), or both (Mace et al., 2010; Volkert, Lerman, Call, & Trosclair-Lasserre, 2009; Wacker et al., 2011). Researchers have accordingly described a number of strategies to improve the efficacy of differential-reinforcement procedures (e.g., FCT) when challenged. For example, Wacker et al. (2011) assessed the maintenance of FCT-treatment effects by periodically exposing the FCR to periods of extinction and found that additional exposure to FCT helped guard against the disruptive impact of later periods of extinction. Basic researchers have described this and similar modifications to FCT procedures based on behavioral momentum theory (BMT) that should also help mitigate treatment relapse. Our research team has recently begun investigating these BMT-inspired modifications to FCT. In this presentation, I will share the results of three preliminary studies and describe our ongoing work in this area.


Quantifying Persistence and Relapse With Behavioral Momentum Theory

CHRISTOPHER A. PODLESNIK (Florida Institute of Technology)

Quantitative frameworks provide precise predictions about factors influencing phenomena. Behavioral models specify how environmental events interact with behavioral and biological processes to produce behavioral outputs. Behavioral momentum theory specifies that persistence and likelihood of relapse of operant behavior is positively related to reinforcement rates in a stimulus context and negatively related to the force of disruption conditions. Studies from several laboratories examining these assumptions provide important insights into variables influencing persistence and relapse but also reveal some of these assumptions to be incorrect. This talk will examine efforts and challenges to explaining the behavioral processes underlying persistence and relapse with behavioral momentum theory.

The Translational Utility of Operant Behavioral Economic Demand
(Applied Research)
DEREK D. REED (The University of Kansas)
Abstract: • Operant behavioral economics integrates behavioral psychology with microeconomic principles and has successfully been applied to a number of basic and applied issues; understanding the benefits of behavioral economic demand may spur interesting new lines of applied research. Reinforcer demand analyses quantify the degree to which an organism defends its baseline consumption of a reinforcer amidst various levels of constraint. Over the past several decades, quantitative models and analyses have emerged as an efficient means to assess demand for reinforcers, particularly in the area of drug dependence and health behavior. This presentation translates findings from basic studies on reinforcer demand to various issues of societal importance. The presentation begins with a primer on demand assessment and analysis. Discussion of demand metrics with immediate translation to applied behavior analysis is provided. Particular examples from behavioral health domains are provided in the areas of alcohol, cigarette, marijuana, and indoor tanning demand. The presentation concludes with a discussion of other areas of translation in mainstream applied behavior analysis, such as validating preference assessments, determining token delivery and exchange schedules, and classroom based reinforcement contingencies for work completion.



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