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.

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45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

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Poster Session #275
Sunday, May 26, 2019
1:00 PM–3:00 PM
Hyatt Regency East, Exhibit Level, Riverside Exhibit Hall
Chair: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
2.

Information Use, Social Learning, and Phenotypic Constraint in Wild Vervet Monkeys

Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
CHRISTINA NORD (University of Lethbridge), S. Henzi (University of Lethbridge), Tyler Bonnell (University of Lethbridge), Louise Barrett (University of Lethbridge), Kyla Funk (University of Lethbridge)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
Abstract:

Animals are thought to acquire, apply, and exploit information in order to exhibit socially-learned behavior. In chacma baboons (Papio ursinus), Carter et al. (2016) suggested that it is possible to explain variation in a novel, socially-learned behavior by identifying phenotypic constraints (cognitive, social, behavioral, ecological, and demographic characteristics). We conducted a similar experiment using wild vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) whose social structure varies significantly from chacma baboons. We presented a novel water patch to three troops of vervet monkeys (approximately 150 individuals) living on a private game reserve in South Africa during times of water scarcity and abundance. Using a Bayesian multi-level model, we tested whether the phenotypic constraints of age, sex, dominance rank, inter-individual behavioral differences, social network structure, and troop ecology influenced water patch exploitation. Here we discuss the sequential nature of information use and argue for the importance of considering phenotypic constraint in the ontogeny and evolution of social learning. We also provide a behavior analytic approach to the concepts of information use and social learning.

 
3. Association Between Odor Discrimination, Cognitive Bias, and Spontaneous Alternation
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
SHIVANI DALAL (Texas Tech University), Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
Abstract: In a recent study, higher levels of persistence in dogs was associated with poorer performance on an odor discrimination task, and more persistent dogs were also more likely to employ a win-stay strategy in the odor discrimination task. The aim of this study was to expand on this finding and evaluate the relationship between cognitive bias and odor discrimination accuracy. The spontaneous alternation task allows dogs to choose between two arms of a T-maze after being rewarded in one location. We then observed whether the dog returned to the side that was previously rewarded or shifted to the alternative side. In addition, the dogs were tested on a cognitive bias task to evaluate whether odor discrimination performance was associated with an optimistic/pessimistic bias. In this task, dogs were trained to recognize one side of the room as positive (food present) and the other as negative (food absent). Ambiguous trials (NN, NP, or M) were interspersed throughout the session, and the time it took the dog to reach each location was recorded. Initial trends show that dogs that perceived ambiguous stimuli as more negative (“pessimistic”), tended to perform best on the discrimination task, but more subjects are undergoing testing to confirm.
 
4.

Are You Better Than Food? Dogs Preference for Owners or Food in aConcurrent Choice Procedure

Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
LINDSAY TAYLOR ISERNIA (Virginia Tech ), Erica N. Feuerbacher (Virginia Tech)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
Abstract:

One approach to investigating the dog-human bond is to evaluate dogs’ preferences for their owner compared to other salient stimuli. Dogs typically preferred food to petting from their owners in familiar contexts, but were more likely to be sensitive to a thinning food schedule, or prefer their owner on all schedules of reinforcement in unfamiliar contexts. One issue with this prior research is that the dog was not equally deprived of food and access to the owner. Thus, in this study we tested dogs’ preference for their owners versus food when they had been deprived of both for at least four hours. After a dog was separated from their owner for the required time, we gave them a concurrent choice between a bowl of food or the owner. The dogs were presented with the food they were normally fed. The dog’s behavior was recorded for a minute-long session. We tested each dog in at least four sessions. Generally, dogs preferred their owner over food and also made the owner their first choice over the food. However, we detected individual differences in dogs. We are confident in our results as we conducted multiple sessions with each dog.

 
5.

Effects of Starch Content on Reinforcer Efficacy Using Progressive Ratio Performance in Horses

Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
JOANNA PLATZER (Virginia Tech), Lindsay Taylor Isernia (Virginia Tech), Erica N. Feuerbacher (Virginia Tech)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
Abstract:

Reinforcer efficacy is an essential issue for training and maintaining desirable behavior in animals. Horses are often required to perform long sequences of behavior such that identifying reinforcers that can maintain long bouts of behavior or high effort behaviors would be useful. One way of testing reinforcer efficacy is using a progressive ratio schedule and measuring break points. Higher break points correspond to more effective reinforcers. We trained horses used in a riding instruction program to touch a target stick with their noses. After horses reached criterion levels of responding, they entered the testing phase in which we used three different grains with varying starch content as reinforcers to determine if starch content affected reinforcer value. Horses were tested on each grain each testing day and we tested each horse multiple days. We measured trials to criterion during training and break points during testing. We will discuss our results in terms of individual differences and sensitivity to different levels of starch using concepts of unit price, demand, and work.We are confident in our results given that we used a single-subject design and tested each horse multiple times on each grain type.

 
6. Social Transmission of Food Preferences in Canines
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
ARMANDO DANTE MENDEZ (Texas Tech University), Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
Abstract: The passing of food preferences between peers is a robust phenomenon in rodents. In previous studies, brief interactions with a demonstrator (another rodent) that has recently eaten has been shown to influence subsequent food choice of an observer. This phenomenon has recently been extended to dogs; however, whether dogs can develop food preferences from interactions with humans has not yet been tested. This study aims to test whether inter-species social interactions influence food preferences in dogs. Thus far, we evaluated 14 dogs and their owners. Owners consumed flavored oatmeal with either blueberry or strawberry jam. Owners/demonstrators were asked to make close contact with their dog during a 5 min interaction period. After social interaction, dogs were offered a two-bowl preference test where two bowls are equipped with a digital scale to continuously measure consumption. We found a general trend that pet dogs with owners that ate blueberry had no clear preference between the strawberry and blueberry. However, pet dogs with owners that ate the strawberry had a clear preference for strawberry, showing owner consumption had modest impact on canine choice.
 
7.

The Smell of Dog: Exploring Canine Olfactory Investigation

Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
TATJANA JARVIS (Texas Tech University), Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
Abstract:

There is a common untested belief that domesticated dogs tend to sniff their owners more when they have been around unfamiliar dogs. In this study we aimed to determine whether this phenomenon is true in a controlled test. Six dogs interacted with a familiar caretaker while wearing sweatpants impregnated with one of four odors: odor of an unfamiliar dog, odor of self, almond extract, and no scent control. The Experimenter wore the sweatpants and stood in an enclosed space. The Experimenter called the dog’s name and pet the dog for ten seconds to encourage the dog to approach the experimenter, and then remained neutral for the duration of a 2 min session. The interaction was recorded and coded for the time the dog spent sniffing the Experimenter’s pants. Each dog went through each condition twice in a pseudorandomized order. Dogs spent significantly more time investigating sweatpants with an unfamiliar dog odor compared to self, control and almond extract. There was no difference in time sniffing between almond extract, self, and control. These results support that dogs do spontaneously recognize unfamiliar canine odors.

 
8.

Behavioral Observation of Goat Facial Contact with a Non-native Invasive Weed Species (Rosa Multiflora)

Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
MARCIE DESROCHERS (State University of New York, Brockport), Nicole Fuller (The College at Brockport--State University of New York), Lori-Ann B. Forzano (The College at Brockport, State University of New York), Jim Witnauer (The College at Brockport-State University at New York), Katie Amantangelo (The College at Brockport--State University of New York)
Discussant: Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University)
Abstract:

Non-native invasive plants (NNIP) have the potential to cause considerable economic and environmental harm. Ruminants, including goats (Capra hircus), are a NNIP management strategy that may be less environmentally harmful than herbicide use, less time consuming than physical weed removal, and more cost effective than either strategy. In this naturalistic observation study, the extent to which goats made facial contact with one NNIP--Rosa multiflora--was evaluated. The goat herd was led by the handler to a Rosa bush in a forest where they were free to roam or remain next to the Rosa bush with the handler. Momentary time samples of goat facial contact (any part of the goat’s head touching any part of a Rosa bush) with 9 goats (5 adult and 4 juvenile does) were collected during 49 video-recorded sessions. Although all goats were observed to contact Rosa, it did not occur frequently (M = 28.02%), was highly variable (SD = 26.75), and in only 2% of sessions was more than 50%. Individual differences in amount of Rosa contact occurred ranging from 29.17-7.83% per session. Operant conditioning methods are necessary to increase goats’ contact with NNIP and facilitate its destruction through stomping or eating.

 
9.

Evaluation of Use of Operant Conditioning Procedures to Increase a Goat’s (Capra Hircus) Consumption of a Non-Native Invasive Weed Specie

Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
MARCIE DESROCHERS (State University of New York, Brockport), Lori-Ann B. Forzano (The College at Brockport, State University of New York), Jim Witnauer (The College at Brockport--State University of New York), Katie Amantangelo (The College at Brockport--State University of New York), Jackie Webster (The College at Brockport--State University of New York)
Discussant: Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract:

Non-native invasive plants (NNIP) can cause considerable economic and environmental harm. Ruminants such as goats (Capra hircus) as a NNIP management strategy may be less environmentally harmful compared to traditional herbicide use, less time consuming than human weed removal, and more cost effective than herbicides and/or manual removal. An experimental demonstration of operant conditioning procedures to increase a goat’s consumption of one NNIP--Rosa multiflora--was performed. A multielement research design was used to compare a goat’s frequency of eating Rosa during training (prompting/fading, differential reinforcement) versus baseline conditions. Sessions occurred while the goat freely roamed with a herd in a forest containing native and non-native shrubs and trees. Data consists of observational coding of goat eating behavior during video recorded sessions. During all 15 sessions, a higher frequency of goat Rosa eating behavior occurred in the training condition compared to baseline (M = 45.53 versus 6.67, respectively). Conversely, the goat consumed vegetation other than Rosa less frequently in the training condition compared to baseline (M = 23.47 versus 47.87, respectively). Although these findings suggest that operant conditioning procedures may increase a goat’s consumption of Rosa, demonstration of maintenance and replication across other goats and NNIP are needed.

 
10.

Home Alone: An Operant Approach to Separation-Related Vocalization and Pacing in aCompanion Dog

Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
NICOLE PFALLER-SADOVSKY (Queen's University Belfast; Verhaltensanalytische Beratung für Hundehalter; Happy-Fellow® Coaching und Seminar)
Discussant: Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract:

Separation-related issues, often characterized by excessive vocalizations, locomotory behaviors and/or property destruction are common canine behaviour problems. While other disciplines (e.g., veterinary behaviour and applied ethology) have extensively researched these phenomena, behaviour analysis has paid little attention to them. This data-supported case study investigated an operant approach as treatment for separation-related behaviors in a companion dog. Lucy, a 6-month old, mixture-breed dog was presented for excessive vocalization when left alone. Upon initial consultation and baseline taking, it was found that Lucy had no settle (i.e., lying-down on cue) response in her repertoire and displayed high instances of vocalizations (i.e., whining and barking) and pacing (i.e., walking around the apartment) when left alone. Treatment comprised (a) teaching a solid settle response; (b) shaping successively longer durations of separation; and (c) counterconditioning with a stuffed toy. A modification of ABC design was used for data analysis. Results showed overall improvements in settle responses, vocalizations, and pacing. A follow-up probe detected medium-term improvements across all behaviors. This case study suggests shaping procedures as potential treatments for canine separation-related issues. More research is needed to further investigate efficacy and generality of operant approaches for treating separation-related behaviors of varying magnitudes in companion dogs.

 
11. Generalization of Olfactory Thresholds in Canines
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
MALLORY TATUM DECHANT (Texas Tech University), Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract: Canine olfactory detection limits are critical for operational canine handlers to ensure a dog can reasonably detect a target under the present conditions. Commonly, one dilution is repeatedly utilized for training and this may lead to a narrow generalization gradient for odor concentration. In this study, we evaluated the effect of odor concentration used in training on olfactory thresholds. Dogs were trained on a three alternative forced choice task in which the odorant (amyl acetate) was discriminated from the diluent (mineral oil). Dogs were trained initially at 10-2 v/v dilution until 86% accuracy over two consecutive days was achieved. Next, a descending 15-step staircase procedure of half-log dilutions was used to assess threshold. Dogs then returned to training with a decreased training dilution (10-4) followed by a re-assessment of threshold. Dogs then returned to training at a further dilution, and threshold re-assessed. Threshold showed progressive improvements in detecting lower concentrations with decreased training dilution. More dogs are currently under evaluation with a yoked-control group receiving an equivalent amount of training with only the highest dilution. We expect training with a wider range of decreasing dilutions will lead to the lowest thresholds compared to training at only one concentration.
 
12. Making a Tiger's Day: Free-Operant Preference Assessment and Environmental Enrichment to Improve Quality of Life
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Trista Shrock (Missouri State University), MICHAEL C. CLAYTON (Missouri State University)
Discussant: Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract: Problem behaviors often occur in captive wild animals due to stress and boredom. Environmental enrichment is one of the most successful methods for minimizing these types of behaviors in captive wild animals. The current study investigated individual preferences of play items and scents for seven adult Bengal tigers in a Tiger Sanctuary using a free-operant preference assessment. Three phases were run on each tiger, ultimately establishing a hierarchy of preferred play items and scents for each tiger included in the study.
 
13.

Operant Conditioning of Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens)

Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
BRITTANY LOUISE COOK (University of Manitoba), Emilie Fonti (University of Manitoba), Baénie La Fleur (University of Manitoba), Spenser Martin (University of Manitoba), Stefaniia Martsynkevych (University of Manitoba), Jessica Summers (University of Manitoba), Joseph J. Pear (University of Manitoba)
Discussant: Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract:

In a square experimental tank (ET), one experimentally naïve lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) was operantly conditioned to enter one of four target areas where it received an auditory feedback-response stimulus (an automated “click”) following its association with darkness reinforcement. The number of responses for each of the four targets was monitored by visual observation and computer software. The reliability of visual observation was confirmed by IOA among observers. The targets were in each corner of the ET and had to be entered by the subject to constitute a response. The study consisted of the following phases: (1) no-feedback baseline (NFB); (2) response feedback stimulus baseline (RFSB); (3) continuous reinforcement schedule (CRF); (4) extinction (EX); (5) test for spontaneous recovery; and (6) fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement (FR1 ~ CRF, FR2, and FR4). It was found during phases 3 and 6 that the subject preferred the target area that resulted in reinforcement as it was indicated by an increase in target area responses for that corner; and decreased responding on the target during phases 4 and 5. Results during the other phases were less clear. This was to the best of our knowledge the first operant conditioning study conducted using this species.

 
14.

The Comparison and Reliability of Domestic Cat (Felis catus) Preference Assessments

Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
BETHANY HINTZE (Western Michigan University), Cynthia J. Pietras (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract:

Pet cats are often thought to be difficult to train, which may be due to a lack of knowledge of what motivates cats to respond (Vitale Shreve, Mehrkam, & Udell 2017). The present study compared two preference assessments with shelter cats – a free operant design (Vitale Shreve et al., 2017) and a paired stimulus design (Fisher et al., 1992). The purpose was to determine an ideal assessment for use in a shelter setting, including ease of use and reliability of results. Each cat completed both assessments, had their most-preferred stimulus used as a reinforcer in basic obedience training for five training sessions, and then was retested. On their initial assessments (n = 20), chicken-flavored wet food was selected most during the paired stimulus assessments (45%), while petting won the free operant assessments (50%). On their retests (n = 6), only two cats had consistent preferences. While data is still being collected, initial analysis demonstrate the paired stimulus assessment worked best overall (easier to set up, required less space, and resulted in less cat stress behavior) and that cat preferences are likely to change in as little as a week regardless of assessment used, indicating regular assessments are necessary.

 
15. Effect of Therapy Dog Handling Styles on Dog and Child Behavior
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
MEGAN ELIZABETH ARANT (Texas Tech University), Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Nathaniel Hall (Texas Tech University)
Abstract: With the incorporation of therapy dogs in educational programs, understanding what type of interactions influence positive behavior in the child is important. On the other hand, it is critical to consider how the dog perceives sessions with children, in order to preserve their welfare and longevity of service. During a session, therapy dog handlers interact with both children and the dog simultaneously, which may influence both parties' behavior. This experiment investigates how handlers influence their dogs' behavior and the children's social behavior. Different, but commonly employed, handling styles were examined, such as passive sitting next to the dog, actively giving treats to the dog, and slight restraint using the leash. Twelve child-dog dyads (twelve dogs, five children with autism spectrum disorder) were assessed to understand how leash restriction, handler behavior, and types of reinforcement influence dog and child behavior will provide guidance for future visits.
 
 

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