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.
Review David W. Schaal’s biographical statement.