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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #387
CE Offered: BACB
Epigenetic Learning: The Shape of Plasticity
Monday, May 31, 2021
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Area: SCI; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Federico Sanabria (Arizona State University)
CE Instructor: Federico Sanabria, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: EVA JABLONKA (Tel-Aviv University; London School of Economics)

The formation of conditional associations among stimuli and actions in neural animals is based on molecular processes within and between neurons, which partially determine which associations can be formed, stored or dissolved. In the last two decades it has been discovered that epigenetic cellular mechanisms are involved in the encoding, storage and retrieval processes that constitute learning, and that these epigenetic mechanisms are sensitive to environmental conditions that induce changes in the epigenetic profile of neurons and affect how learning occurs. Taking a developmental approach to learning, I shall describe these epigenetic mechanisms, discuss their role in neural plasticity and point to the biases and affordances that they uncover, which can contribute to our understanding of learning and memory dynamics at different stages of development. Focusing on studies of long-term ontogenetic and transgenerational epigenetic changes, I will consider the effects of stress on epigenetic memory and explore what the understanding of the epigenetics of learning may mean for the study and treatment of learning and memory pathologies.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe epigenetic mechanisms; (2) discuss the contribution of epigenetic changes in neurons to the encoding, storage, and retrieval of information; (3) describe how changes in environmental conditions can alter epigenetic profiles and affect learning.
EVA JABLONKA (Tel-Aviv University; London School of Economics)
Eva Jablonka is a professor in the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel-Aviv, a member of the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel-Aviv, and a Research Associate in the CPNSS (LSE, London University). She has a M.Sc. in Microbiology and a Ph.D in Genetics. Her main interests are the understanding of evolution, especially evolution that is driven by non-genetic hereditary variations, and the evolution of nervous systems and consciousness. Among her book: Epigenetic Inheritance and Evolution (OUP with Marion Lamb), Animal Traditions (CUP with Eytan Avital), Evolution in 4 Dimensions (MIT with Marion Lamb), The evolution of the Sensitive Soul (MIT with Simona Ginsburg), and Inheritance Systems and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (CUP, with Marion Lamb).



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