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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #39
Humor, Brains, and Video Games: The Many Ways to Link Physiology With Basic and Rehabilitative Behavioral Paradigms
Saturday, May 23, 2020
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Level M2, Marquis Ballroom 5
Area: BPN/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Discussant: Christina Nord (University of Lethbridge)

Neuroscience constitutes a branch of the biological sciences that is easily integrated with Behavior Analysis in several ways, including direct analysis of neural signals in behavioral experiments, the use of behavioral approaches to help rewire the brain and improve lost skills after brain injury, and theoretical integration of biological measures and neurological events into the behavioral paradigm. This symposium will present varied basic, applied, and theoretical work in the Neuro-operant realm currently conducted at the University of North Texas in association with the Beatrice H. Barrett Endowment for Research in Neuro-Operant Relations. Two basic talks will integrate physiological, neurological, and behavioral data into an analysis of covertly mediated stimulus equivalence, and into an examination of humor responses. An applied project will show the results of using a Wii gaming system to improve rehabilitation of balance deficits after brain injury. Finally, the divide between stimulus and response when considering events occurring inside the skin will be considered on a theoretical and practical level.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Brain Injury, Complex Behavior, Theory, Philosophy, Verbal Behavior

Use of a Virtual Reality Gaming System to Improve Balance in Individuals With Chronic Stroke

(Applied Research)
SELENA CRUZ (University of North Texas), Stephon Primus (University of North Texas), April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)

The Wii Fit U game utilizes a Wii Balance Board™ (WBB) that provides precise feedback contingencies, thereby potentially increasing the dose of quality therapy with or without the presence of a therapist during post-stroke rehabilitation. Additionally, an engaging video-game could improve treatment adherence, a critical aspect of making progress, by potentially increasing the rate and quality of reinforcement embedded in therapy. The present study has three aims: 1) Develop a behaviorally rigorous therapy for improving balance in chronic stroke victims using the Wii Fit U and WBB; 2) Evaluate the program’s effects on Berg Balance Scale (BBS) and Center of Balance (COB) scores using a within-subject experimental design; 3) Assess social validity of behavioral gains by evaluating the program’s effects on participant’s "subjective balance confidence" (i.e., their Activities-Specific Balance Confidence (ABC) scores). A reversal design is used wherein the experimental gameplay condition and no intervention condition are alternated for 6 to 10 weeks. It is expected that participants will exhibit greater performance in the game as well as better BBS and COB score improvement when the Wii Fit U game is administered at a high therapeutic dose, and that increased ABC scores will correlate with improved BBS and COB scores.


Stimulus Equivalence Formation, Covert Verbal Behavior, and the Role of Compatible and Incompatible Responses

(Basic Research)
ELIZABETH LOVITZ (University of North Texas), Daniele Ortu (University of North Texas)

While the descriptive understanding of stimulus equivalence is widely accepted within the field of behavior analysis, its interpretation is more contentious. The emergence of reflexivity, symmetry, and transitivity without direct reinforcement of the responses that make up these relations is puzzling in light of our basic understanding of reinforcement contingencies. The present study explores the role of covert verbal behavior in the emergence of equivalence relations in an arbitrary matching to sample task using participants recruited from the general population, as well as college students. Participants engage in a computerized matching to sample task with arbitrary stimuli under three different conditions. Baseline consists of matching to sample training of four conditional discriminations using arbitrary stimuli yielding two, three-member equivalence classes and tests for the resulting symmetry, transitivity and equivalence relations. The order of the two experimental phases is counterbalanced across participants and these phases consist of one of two conditions, engaging in behavior that was either compatible with covert verbal behavior or incompatible with covert verbal behavior concurrently with the tests for equivalence. A final phase consists of a return to baseline. Behavioral data collection is ongoing and EEG data collection will follow to assess N400 response changes across conditions.

A Neurobehavioral Analysis of Humor Responses
(Basic Research)
EDWARD BRANDON AMEZQUITA (University of North Texas), Daniele Ortu (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Laughter and humor responses in general are a crucial part of human behavior. However, compared to other examples of human behavior, they have received relatively little attention from the scientific community and by the behavior analytic community in particular. The purpose of this study is to assess what are the controlling variables for humans to emit a laugh or humor response. We compare behavioral and physiological (EEG, GSR, and Eye Muscles) responses to the presentation of sentences that either end with a putative punchline or not. There are five total responses in this experiment : An initiation response delivers the first word of a joke, a delivery response presents the next word of a joke, a punchline delivery response presents the punchline to the joke, and finally the termination responses ends the trial with a self-report response of “not funny” or “funny”. The number of sentences is kept constant across the joke and non-joke conditions, and presentation of jokes and non-jokes is randomized across trials. Participants will be college students who are first language English speakers. Data collection is ongoing and results will be interpreted within the framework of the basic literature on priming, N400 responses and intraverbal control.
Towards a Natural Line of Fracture Between Behavior and Environment: Climbing Out of the Pigeonhole of the Skin on the Other Side
APRIL M. BECKER (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Abstract: Behavior analysis has successfully built a science on the study of environment-behavior relations. While it has long been acknowledged that the skin constitutes an arbitrary and potentially misleading structural divide between these two phenomena, the search for a more functional distinction deserves further exploration. This talk will start from the radical behaviorist standpoint that covert behavior is not different in kind from overt and is distinguished merely via technology-related thresholds enabling multi-observer measurement. We will discuss strategies for differentiating events that occur inside the skin, which new technology has placed squarely in the prevue of direct measurement, and distinguishing them as part of either stimulation or response. Such events include endogenous or exogenous chemicals administered locally or via general circulation, neural activation (including receptor activation, early processing, integration, premotor, and motor stages), artificial neural activation, various avenues of internal sensation, proprioceptive and automatic response-produced feedback, and more. Various mutually exclusive approaches to the question will be considered along with their practical implications for the behavior of the scientist and thus the advancement of the science.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh