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 #324
Alternative Model Organisms: Alcoholic Bees, Mutant Mice, Robotic Zebrafish, and T-Mazing Octopi
Sunday, May 27, 2018
4:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Marquis, San Diego Ballroom A
Area: EAB/BPN; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: David Matthew Cole (Utah State University)
Discussant: Brady J. Phelps (South Dakota State University)
Abstract: A defining strategy of behavior analysis is to understand human behavior through basic principles derived from simpler organisms. The pigeon and the rat are the field’s standard-bearers. This partiality has only strengthened over time such that 85% of animal models in the Journal for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior were pigeons or rats from 2008 to 2012, compared to 76% fifty years earlier from 1958 to 1962. By adopting default organisms, researchers stand atop a mountain of species-specific knowledge, to which they strive to add their own nugget of wisdom; by adopting alternative organisms, they start at sea level. Nevertheless, model selection should be a deliberate one, and sometimes, experimental questions or laboratory resources dictate alternative paradigms. With the premise that maintaining model variability is essential to the long-term health of the field, this symposium describes four lesser-known options collected from sea, air, and land. Presenters will address the relative merits of their model organism, as well as practical considerations for investigators receptive to adoption.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): ethanol consumption, genetic modification, preference assessment, social behavior
Adding Genetically Modified Mice to the Armamentarium of Behavior Analysis
DAVID MATTHEW COLE (Utah State University)
Abstract: From its earliest days, behavior analysis parsed biological correlates of behavior with a toolkit that included drug administration, lesions, and cranial stimulation. Today, missing from this armamentarium is genetic modification. One downside is that translational research into genetic disorders like autism—a mainstay of clinical behavior analysis—has been stymied. Why has adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) lagged? One explanation is that GMOs have not been rejected in principle, but rather, only in the past decade has genetic modification been available for a default organism in behavior analysis: the rat. Yet, modifying the mouse (Mus musculus) germline has been possible for nearly four decades. In adopting the most productive model organism in medicine, behavior analysts gain access to hundreds of models of psychiatric disease. In this talk, I comprehensively review (a) model organisms reported in the Journal for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and (b) mouse models of autism reported in the archives of PubMed. I touch on breeding, genetic modification, genotyping, phenotyping, and modifying behavioral assays for mice. The mouse is not a miniature rat; however, most points will apply to genetically modified rats, with the expectation that they will become a primary target for future behavioral investigations.
Honey Bees as a Behavioral and Biological Model of Ethanol Consumption: Research on Proboscis Extension Conditioning
CHRISTOPHER ALLEN VARNON (Converse College), Charles I. Abramson (Oklahoma State University), David Craig (Oklahoma State University), Tim Black (Oklahoma State University), Christopher Dinges (Oklahoma State University), Harrington Wells (University of Tulsa)
Abstract: In this presentation, we discuss the importance and findings of using honey bees (Apis mellifera) as behavioral and biological models of ethanol consumption, with a focus on two recent experiments. In both experiments, we investigated the effects of ethanol using a proboscis extension response (PER) conditioning procedure, where restrained bees were taught to associate odors with repeated sucrose feedings. Bees were also administered 0%, 2.5%, 5%, 10%, or 20% ethanol solutions. In experiment 1, we investigated the ability of bees to respond to reversals in CS+ and CS- roles. We found that while ethanol inhibits behavior, the bees were able to adapt to the stimulus reversal at lower doses. In experiment 2, we tested if bees learned a conditioned odor aversion by associating that odor with ethanol prior to a PER procedure where the odor was a CS. We found that our bees did not learn a conditioned aversion despite the inhibitory and aversive effects of ethanol. The findings of both experiments will be related to the current understanding of the effects of ethanol, as well as the behavioral ecology of honey bees. We also discuss future directions for honey bees and other invertebrates as models of substance use.
Who Is Influencing Whom? Unveiling Causal Relationships in Social Behavior
MAURIZIO PORFIRI (New York University)
Abstract: The quantification of causal relationships underlying animal interactions is of critical importance in the study of social behavior. Information theory offers a powerful framework to measure social influence from tracked trajectories or behavioral observations. By encoding animal behavior through a stochastic process, we leverage the concept of transfer entropy to measure social influence. In this talk, we demonstrate the validity of this approach through experiments on zebrafish, a popular animal model in preclinical research. Our experiments include a series of preference tests, in which zebrafish are exposed to biologically-inspired robotic stimuli. These stimuli are designed to mimic the morphology and swimming style of zebrafish, while affording full control over their behavior. In open-loop experiments, the stimulus moves along predetermined trajectories, such that a causal relationship should be detected from the response of the live fish. In closed-loop experiments, the stimulus is instead commanded to follow the live fish in real-time, such that the direction of influence should be reversed. Through the notion of transfer entropy, we demonstrate the ability to detect these interactions from tracked data and we comment on extensions to live stimuli and larger groups.

Operant Conditioning in Octopus Bimaculoides

AYLA SCHMICK (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University), Jordan Belisle (Southern Illinois University), Kevin Erdner (SIU)

Conditional discrimination has been used to examine learning and other psychological aspects of human and animal behavior, however, even though the octopus has a large brain and advanced learning capabilities among invertebrates little research has been conducted in this area. This presentation will cover three studies using the species Octopus Bimaculoides. Study 1 conducted a preference assessment of four different foods (frozen crab/shrimp, live crab/shrimp) for three octopuses. Latency to eat each food was recorded and the results found that the live crab was most preferred for all subjects. Study 2 examined a shaping procedure that involved opening a container that housed a live crab. The results found that the two octopuses latency to open the container decreased with training, suggesting that the shaping procedure was effective. Study 3 evaluated whether octopuses could conditionally discrimination in a T-maze. After the shaping procedure, two octopuses were then trained to enter a T-maze, in which both arms had eggs at the end of them but only the right side held a crab. Results of this study found that the octopuses were able to conditionally discriminate in the T-maze. Implications of the findings and avenues for future research will also be discussed.




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