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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Paper Session #116
Choice and Skill Learning in Laboratory Animals
Saturday, May 25, 2019
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Swissôtel, Concourse Level, Zurich BC
Area: EAB
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Alliston K. Reid (Wofford College)
Do Rats and Humans Learn Behavioral Skills the Same Way?
Domain: Basic Research
ALLISTON K. REID (Wofford College), Paige Bolton (Wofford College), Logan Brown (Wofford College), Megan Dempsey (Wofford College), Rebeka Parent (Wofford College), Timothy Phillips (Wofford College), Belle Scott (Wofford College)
Abstract: Skill learning has been widely studied in humans, but far less in rats. It has a counter-intuitive feature: Factors that degrade performance during acquisition often enhance performance in a subsequent autonomy condition, and vice versa. This finding is strongly supported in knowledge-of-results (KR) procedures, which provide post-trial informative feedback about performance errors during skill acquisition. Procedures with rats typically provide feedback in the form of food reward or timeout. Apparently, no KR procedures have been published with rats. Skill learning in rats has focused on anticipatory cues, rather than informative feedback: the transfer of stimulus control from discriminative control by panel lights to other cues that result from the subject’s own behavior of repeating the same response pattern. This procedure produces the same counter-intuitive feature in rats: Less effective cues or more difficult behavioral skills degrade accuracy during acquisition, yet enhance accuracy during autonomy. This study explored whether informative KR feedback would affect skill learning in rats in the same counter-intuitive fashion as in humans.

Choosing Between Many Alternatives: Changing the Number of Alternatives

Domain: Basic Research
BRENT L. ALSOP (University of Otago)

Recent research examining choice between multiple alternatives has produced conflicting results (see, for example, Beeby and Alsop, 2017 for a summary). In the present experiment, six pigeons worked on concurrent schedules of reinforcement where four, three, or two of the schedules were available at various times in the day. The allocation of behaviour between pairs of alternatives were analysed as a function of the total number of alternatives available at different times. Pairs of schedules with the same relative rates of reinforcement, but different overall rates of reinforcement were also compared. The locations of the specific schedules across the four response keys was varied across conditions to control for specific response biases. Choice between pairs of alternatives was unaffected by the number of alternatives available, and pairs of schedules with differing overall reinforcer rates but the same relative reinforcer rate also produced similar relative response allocation. The results are discussed in relation to previous research using similar, but different, procedures.




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