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

Previous Page


Symposium #219
CE Offered: BACB
Issues of Stimulus Control in People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Major Neurocognitive Disorder (Dementia)
Sunday, May 27, 2018
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Harbor Ballroom AB
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Zoe Lucock (Bangor University)
Discussant: Andrew Buchanan (The Columbus Organization)
CE Instructor: Zoe Lucock, M.S.

Behavior analysis has made contributions in the development of evidence-based interventions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and there is a growing evidence base for behavior-analytic interventions for older adults with dementia (now called major neurocognitive disorder). The increased prevalence of dementia in people with IDD means that behavior analysts are likely to encounter people with a comorbid diagnosis in their work, and this under-represented population in the literature warrants further study. There is emerging evidence that a deterioration in stimulus control occurs in people with dementia. However, there is a paucity of applied and basic research specifically evaluating the factors influencing how stimulus control may change, and how these changes can be ameliorated. We may need to consider certain interventions that rely on unimpaired stimulus control, or ensure the salience of stimuli used during interventions. This symposium is comprised of two papers assessing issues of stimulus control in people with dementia and IDD. The papers will be followed by a discussion addressing the current applied and basic evidence for stimulus control deficits in this population, and possible directions for future research.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): dementia, developmental disabilities, stimulus control
Target Audience:

Behaviour analysts and behaviour analytic researchers interested in behavioural gerontology.

Influence of Supplemental Stimulation on Stimulus Control in Delayed Matching-to-Sample
LAUREL M. CIAVARRI (Simmons College)
Abstract: This study examines the influence of supplemental stimuli on the response accuracy of individuals with Down syndrome of an age where neurodegeneration characteristic of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type is typically present. Participants with a previously demonstrated decline in performance as a function of delay in a computer-based match-to-sample task were exposed to conditions in which a mediating response (Rm) was trained and/or inhibited, and matching accuracy, measured as percent correct, was evaluated. Effect of the modality of the Rm was also assessed by examining matching accuracy when a manual Rm or a vocal Rm was performed. It was hypothesized that the trained Rm would function as a supplemental stimulus, and contribute to the control of response by the sample stimulus. Results support the view that mediating behavior may function as precurrent behavior as defined by Skinner (1968) in that performance of a sample specific mediating response functions to increase the likelihood that the current operant (comparison selection) will fall within the required performance criteria for reinforcement. Results are discussed in terms of implications for a behavioral interpretation of remembering, stimulus control, join-control and in terms of treatment implications for conditions with significant degradation of remembering as a defining feature.

"Taking Stock" of What We Know and Adapting What We Do With People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Dementia

ZOE LUCOCK (Bangor University), Rebecca A. Sharp (Bangor University), Robert Jones (Bangor University)

We conducted a review of the last 20 years of behavioral gerontology research with people with IDD who develop dementia and found a total of six behavior-analytic studies. The six studies were analyzed based on the seven dimensions of applied behavior analysis as articulated by Baer, Wolf, and Risley (1968) to determine overarching themes, and to conduct an analysis of the audiences likely reached by these publications. Based on the unique challenges we identified for behavior analysts working with people with IDD that develop dementia, we implemented a study to assess an alternative to functional analyses with this population. Experimental functional analyses require discrimination, which can be in deficit in people with dementia. Therefore, we will present the results of the use of conditional probability analyses as an alternative method of assessing challenging behavior. Although conditional probability analyses are correlational, functional analyses may not produce clear results due to discrimination issues.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh