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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #123
Advances in Technology for the Operant Laboratory
Saturday, May 26, 2018
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, San Diego Ballroom A
Area: EAB/TBA; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Forrest Toegel (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Dean C. Williams (Parsons Research Center)
Abstract: In recent years, technological advances have made affordable hardware and open-source software available to scientists around the world. These advances are notable because they allow informed researchers and teachers to create laboratory apparatus at a fraction of the price of commercially available equipment. In addition to saving money, the new apparatus can allow scientists to control experimental events and measure behavior in ways that were not previously possible. This symposium describes four ventures aimed at developing inexpensive and easy-to-use apparatus for laboratory work. Advances discussed here include hardware and software for work with humans, rats, and pigeons. We hope to help remove barriers to laboratory research that result from the high cost and inflexibility of commercially available laboratory equipment.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Apparatus, Equipment, Instrumentation, Technology

Paradigm Experiments: Accessible Software for Building and Executing Mobile-Friendly Research

SEAN DRISCOLL (Factari), Joshua K. Pritchard (Florida Institute of Technology), Adam Thornton Brewer (Florida Institute of Technology)

As human researchers rely more and more on modern technology, the need for a sophisticated, easy-to-use, and mobile-friendly program for building and executing experiments grows. Options available for current purchase are often beyond the reach of most researchers' budgets. However, a more affordable option is currently experiencing an increase in behavior analytic use. This is Paradigm Experiments. It includes a drag-and-drop interface to quickly build simple, yet customizable experiments and a backend which allows for more sophisticated experiments with the use of Python scripting. In this presentation, we will demonstrate the value of making research development easier and how the removal of a barrier to entry can have wide-spread impact on both experimental and applied researchers.

Design and Evaluation of a Touchscreen Apparatus for Pigeons
FORREST TOEGEL (West Virginia University), Michael Perone (West Virginia University)
Abstract: We developed an operant chamber for pigeons that uses a touchscreen monitor – instead of mechanical keys – to present stimuli and record responses. In addition to the touchscreen monitor, the chamber includes a complete set of control equipment. This self-contained apparatus includes a single-board Windows 10 computer programmed in Visual Basic and a set of relays to allow the computer to control the chamber’s houselight, food hopper, and response feedback mechanism. The computer also provides an unlimited array of auditory stimuli. The touchscreen apparatus is capable of presenting response “keys” with any shape, color, or graphic image, displayed at any location on the screen – a substantial improvement in experimental flexibility over the standard three-key pigeon chamber. The utility of the touchscreen chamber will be evaluated by comparing the features of responding such as the response rate and response accuracy in sessions with equivalent FR requirements in either the touchscreen chamber or a conventional chamber. Results and implications of our evaluation will be discussed.

Improved Designs for 3-D Printed Operant Chambers

ROGELIO ESCOBAR (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Brissa Gutiurrez (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Rodrigo Benavides (National Autonomous University of Mexico)

Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, has revolutionized manufacturing processes. Users can design tridimensional forms in minutes and transfer them to a 3D printer to create inexpensive physical objects. For a few years, we have provided free and open-source software along with instructions to build 3D printed operant chambers for rats that can be used in laboratory demonstrations and even for research. These chambers by combining 3D printing, laser cutting, and do-it-yourself (DIY) electronics have drastically reduced the cost of research equipment making it more accessible to researchers and instructors around the world. Based on our experience, we have created improved designs of the devices used in these operant chambers. One improvement consists of adding a microcontroller and a photocell to the feeder dispenser to detect pellet delivery and make it more reliable and easy-to-connect to electronic control equipment. A similar arrangement with limiting switches can be added to retractable levers. A potentiometer module can be used with peristaltic water pumps to control precisely the amount of water delivered as reinforcement, and to piezo speakers to create auditive signals. 3D-printing files and circuit diagrams required to build these devices will be described and will available for free download.

A Cheap, Versatile Operant Interface Based on Arduino Technology
MICHAEL PERONE (West Virginia University)
Abstract: This paper describes the design, construction, testing, and implementation of a digital input-output interface to connect a personal computer to one or more operant chambers. The interface is based on open-source Arduino hardware and software and can be built with off-the-shelf components. It provides four opto-isolated inputs that can detect 5 V to 28 V, eight relay outputs, and adjustable-volume, amplified auditory stimuli including white noise and a wide range of tones (100 Hz to 6,000 Hz). The interface also provides timing functions for pulsing and flashing the relays, relieving the host computer of this chore. The interface is currently used in the rat lab of a large undergraduate course on behavior principles. Costs and benefits of building this interface – as opposed to using commercially available products – will be considered.



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