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

Program by Invited Tutorials: Saturday, May 28, 2011

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Invited Tutorial #78
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Behavioral Neuroscience
Saturday, May 28, 2011
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
401/402 (Convention Center)
Area: SCI; Domain: Experimental Analysis
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: David Schaal, Ph.D.
Chair: John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
Presenting Authors: : DAVID W. SCHAAL (Accuray Incorporated)

Functional relations between an animal's environment and its behavior are established, maintained, altered, and elaborated by experience because it has a nervous system. Behavioral neuroscience is the investigation of how the nervous system participates in and accounts for functional relations between environment and behavior. Neuroscience is becoming an increasingly behavioral enterprise, as indicated by recent neuroscience research on the process of reinforcement, which I will review in this presentation. Then I present a selective survey of how the neural mechanisms of reinforcement participate in complex operant behavior, followed by examples of the application of behavioral neuroscience to human problems. I conclude with a discussion of the unique conceptual difficulties behavior analysts face when they try to integrate behavioral theory with behavioral neuroscience.

DAVID W. SCHAAL (Accuray Incorporated)
Dave Schaal discovered behaviorism as a student at St. Cloud State University, where he also learned to program a computer and do pigeon experiments. He was accepted into the EAB program at the University of Florida, where he learned to think a little and picked up a good trade (Behavioral Pharmacology) from Dr. Marc Branch, one that would result in a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota under Dr. Travis Thompson. There he was encouraged to consider how genetic and biological variables contribute to normal and aberrant behavior. Dave joined the Psychology faculty of West Virginia University, where thanks to his colleagues and students he was a reasonably successful researcher and teacher. For some reason he moved to the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University in 2002, where some of his ideas about biological variables became useful to him. Dave helped Drs. Timberlake and Steinmetz edit a special issue of JEAB devoted to Behavioral Neuroscience, and he got to serve as Editor for Behavioral Neuroscience for JEAB for a few years. A biomedical device company offered him a job in 2006, so he left academia and now he writes about radiosurgery. Today the great blessings of his life include his loving wife and family, his love of music and fiction, and the fact that his ABAI friends still let him come to this meeting.



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