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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Paper Session #442
The Behaviorist's Integral Role in Drug Development for Neuropsychiatric Conditions: A Case Study
Monday, May 30, 2022
9:30 AM–9:55 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 154
Area: BPN
Chair: Oanh Luc (McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School)
The Behaviorist’s Integral Role in Drug Development for Neuropsychiatric Conditions: A Case Study
Domain: Basic Research
OANH LUC (McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School), Brian D. Kangas (Harvard Medical School)
Abstract: Behavioral pharmacology continues to make important contributions to the advancement of better therapeutics. Integral to this endeavor is the behaviorist’s role in the development and empirical validation of innovative assays for laboratory animals that drive translatability to the clinic, thereby accelerating medications development in areas of unmet need. This presentation will provide a case study in this approach focusing on a behavioral phenotype ubiquitous in neuropsychiatric conditions, anhedonia, i.e., the loss of sensitivity to reinforcement contingencies. Success in quantifying anhedonia across diverse affective disorders has been achieved using the Probabilistic Reward Task, which derives metrics of response bias (log b) from matching law and discriminability (log d) from signal detection theory. Reverse-translated task variants have allowed for examination of pharmacotherapeutics in rodents and nonhuman primates to help bridge the preclinical gap between therapeutic discovery and treatment. Studies have confirmed pharmacological sensitivity in both healthy and chronically stressed subjects by showing that drugs known to enhance hedonic tone dose-dependently increase responsiveness to reinforcement. Coordinated pursuits of this sort leverage animal behavior using quantitative metrics to advance medications development. More generally, interdisciplinary action addressing unmet medical needs can be achieved with behaviorists at the forefront via collaborative efforts from bench to bedside.



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