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

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Poster Session #86
Saturday, May 23, 2020
1:00 PM–3:00 PM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 2, Hall D
Chair: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
1. Impact of Training Method on Behavioral, Physiological, and Relationship Measures in Horses
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
LINDSAY TAYLOR ISERNIA (Virginia Tech), Erica N. Feuerbacher (Virginia Tech)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: Traditionally, horse training has relied on negative reinforcement. With a rise in concern for animal welfare, many trainers and riders have started using positive reinforcement. We compared effects of negative reinforcement (N) to a combination of both positive and negative reinforcement (P+N) on behavioral, physiological, human-horse interaction, and preference measures. We trained 20 horses to walk across the long axis of a visually discriminable (either horizontally- or vertically-striped) liverpool. One liverpool was associated with P+N and the other with just N training, counterbalanced across horses. Horses alternated between the two training modes. We investigated number of steps required before a horse successfully walked across each liverpool and any undesirable behaviors for each training method. We collected saliva for cortisol analysis before and after each training. We also conducted a motionless human test with their trainer before and after training sessions. Finally, after training ended, we tested horses’ preference for the two tasks using a concurrent choice test using both liverpools and measuring time spent with each. Results will be discussed in terms of mode of training’s impact on training efficacy, welfare, human-horse interaction, and preference for stimuli associated with each training method.

Managing the Key Behaviors in Training a New Dog: Most of Them are NOT the Dog's

Area: AAB; Domain: Service Delivery
MATTHEW GROSS (Shippensburg University), Richard Cook (Applied Behavior Medicine Associates of Hershey)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)

Successfully "training" a new dog is a function of mindfulness of their own behaviors by the dog's "people," and their ability to manage those behaviors in the context of the interactions with the dog, and in their interactions with other humans regarding the dog's behavior. Multiple behaviors, overt and private, must be emitted in the process of adopting a dog. Once adopted, the rituals begin of training the dog to emit or not emit targeted behaviors. Interactions with other humans can be a threat to consistency needed in the early phases of treatment Once the owner(s) has developed a postion regarding a behavior in various situations, it behooves the training process consistency to have a concise and clear plan to comminucate the desired behavior plan to those who might interact with the dog, and teach it to those humans. For example, if the owner prefers that the dog not be allowed to jump up onto a person when greeting, or not be given table food, those predeeences should be made clear to any human interacting with the dog. Other domains of human behaviors include interactions of persons with the dog regarding tricks, treats, greeting and petting, preferences for walking or holding the dog, and the essentials of communication between humans regarding dog behaviors. Interactions with other animals, and with owners of other animals, as well as the intersection of the dog and the enviormment...either at home or out in the world encountered when going for a walk become the real world of maintanance, generalization, and discrimintation of dog behavior, such as the interaction of the new dog with other dogs, other house pets, other humans, and wild animals. It is the owner to other human behaviors that lay the foundation of the dog's behavior. If the "owner" is a couple, there is an expotential inceease in behaviors human behaviors emitted, including "private" behaviors such as attitudes toward and understanding of basic behavior principles such as reinforcement and punishment, all of which which need to be defined and shaped. To the extent the owner understands principles of behavior, and can explain them to others in the context of increasing or decreasing specific dog behaviors, such as barking, chasing, marking, etc., it can help make for more consistent training for the dog, and less arguments for the people. This presentation will highlight domains of human behaviors which need to be shaped when adopting and training a new dog.

3. Discrete Trial Training Paired With Behavior Skills Training to Increase Attention With Killer Whales in a Zoological Facility
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
MEGAN ELISE MACKELLAR (SeaWorld Orlando; Purdue Global University)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
Abstract: Researchers have documented cetaceans visually attending to one another learning novel behaviors, discriminating kin, hunting, and riding in the wake of boats; supporting attending as a socially significant behavior (Bender et al., 2009; Yeater & Kucczaj, 2010; Wright et al., 2016). When humans and animals interact reciprocal attending is required for communication (Carlstead, Paris, & Brown, 2019; Greco et al., 2016; Hasegawa, Ohtani, & Ohta, 2014; Lukas, Marr, & Maple, 1998). At SeaWorld Orlando, a functional analysis was performed on two whales (WH1 and 2) emitting a perceived lower attentive rate during interactions. Results suggested the function of the behavior was attention. The goal of the study was to determine if using Behavior Skills Training (BST) to train two trainers (RA1 and 2) on Discrete Trial Training (DTT) would increase whale attention. Pre-intervention suggested combined whale attentive rate was 0.62 with combined RA treatment fidelity rate at 0.38. Post-BST treatment fidelity increased to 0.98, whale attending rate at 0.96, with an IOA rate of 0.95. During Intervention attentive behavior was reinforced with 30s of attention, food was not used. Results suggest a positive correlation between treatment fidelity and behavior outcome, supporting the importance of training prior to implementing behavioral interventions.
4. Effects of Starch Content on Reinforcer Efficacy in Horses
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
JOANNA PLATZER (Virginia Tech), Erica N. Feuerbacher (Virginia Tech)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)
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 to touch a target stick with their noses. After horses reached criterion levels of responding, they entered the testing phase in which we used six different grains with varying starch content as reinforcers to determine if starch content affected reinforcer value. Horses were tested on one grain per day and we tested each horse on each grain multiple times. 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.

Maternal Western Style Diet Perturbs Fetal Neurodevelopment and Alters Postnatal Outcomes

Area: AAB; Domain: Basic Research
AJ MITCHELL (Behavioral Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University; Oregon National Primate Research Center), Eric Feczko (Department of Behavioral Neuroscience; Oregon Health and Science University; Department of Medical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology), Jacqueline Thompson (Oregon Health and Science University; Oregon National Primate Research Center), Madison DeCapo (Oregon Health and Science University; Oregon National Primate Research Center), Jennifer Bagley (Oregon Health and Science University; Oregon National Primate Research Center), Damien Fair (Oregon Health and Science University; Department of Behavioral Neuroscience; Department of Psychiatry; Advanced Imaging Research Center ), Elinor Sullivan (Oregon Health & Science University; Department of Psychiatry; Division of Neuroscience )
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)

The WSD increases risk of developing chronic disorders including obesity and its associated metabolic diseases, and global consumption is increasing. This is particularly concerning in the context of early brain development as preclinical studies are accumulating evidence that maternal WSD (mWSD) perturbs fetal neurodevelopment. Using the Japanese macaque (n=36), we introduce a novel computational approach to assess temperament at three years of age in offspring exposed to a mWSD compared to controls. First, we clustered 37 individual measures of behavior using community detection. From the five communities (or groups) of behavior that were formed, temperament composite scores were created by summating individual behaviors within each community. Scores were used to investigate differences in temperament between offspring diet groups. These temperament composites encompassed individual behavioral profiles such as anxious, obsessive, and balanced and represent distinct temperamental characteristics. The anxious temperament composite was expressed highest in the HFD offspring, and also was significantly different between diet groups (p = .029). Results are consistent with the literature, showing that mWSD programs perturbations in fetal neurodevelopment resulting in offspring displaying increased anxiety-like behavior. This novel approach toward behavioral clustering provides a unique and empirical method for identifying behavioral classifications in high dimensional data.


Clinical Trial: Effects of Integrating a Therapy Dog into Social Skills Classes for Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
PAIGE DOTSON (Texas Tech University), Wesley H. Dotson (Texas Tech University), Alexandra Protopopova (Texas Tech University; The University of British Columbia)
Discussant: Terri M. Bright (MSPCA Angell)

Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) have been shown to increase social behavior in people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of this project has been to identify the mechanisms involved in the social-enhancing effect of dogs on adolescents with ASD. Participants are part of small groups in which either (a) the first 5 weeks will involve a therapy dog, (b) the last 5 weeks will involve the therapy dog, or (c) the class will not involve a therapy dog. We hypothesized (1) an integration of therapy dogs into group social skills instruction will result in reduced stress and improved social behavior compare to traditional group instruction; and (2) therapists will experience less stress, engage in more social and affiliative behavior towards the children, and deliver higher quality instruction during sessions that include dogs. Social behavior, stress behavior, heart rate, electrodermal activity, and salivary cortisol concentrations of adolescents and therapists have been assessed and compared across conditions. Preliminary data has shown a decrease in the student’s cortisol levels during classes when the therapy dog is present, and a maintenance in cortisol levels for the teachers, regardless of if the therapy dog is present.




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