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.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #56
CE Offered: BACB
Using Behavior Analysis to Understand the Links Between Genetics and Behavior
Friday, September 2, 2022
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Area: BPN/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Julian C. Leslie (Ulster University)
CE Instructor: Suzanne Mitchell, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: SUZANNE MITCHELL (Oregon Health & Science University)

Behavior analysts seek to identify factors that influence behavior, which enables them to predict future responses and develop therapeutic plans by which maladaptive behaviors can change. Usually behavioral science concentrates on environmental factors, but with the implicit understanding that the biology of the organism is critical for determining an individual’s responses to environmental events and the efficacy of consequences to reinforce or punish those responses. This presentation will provide an overview and examples of how genotype influences brain structure and function, thereby providing the canvas on which environmental conditions and outcomes can yield general behavioral effects, as well as providing the source of individual differences. Correlational and experimental techniques by which conclusions linking genes to behavior will be described and critically evaluated.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior Analysts

Learning Objectives: At the end of this presentation, audience members will be able to: (1) Describe at a basic level how differences in genes can result in differences in behavioral phenotypes, including psychopathologies; (2) Describe at least two experimental designs that are used to identify to role of genes in behavioral phenotypes, including psychopathologies; (3) Describe at least two examples of behavior analytic approaches being used to understand the genotype-phenotype relationship.
SUZANNE MITCHELL (Oregon Health & Science University)
Suzanne H. Mitchell, Ph.D., is a Professor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in the Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatry departments, and in the Oregon Institute for Occupational Health Sciences. She obtained her undergraduate degree at the University of Hull, England and her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Her thesis examined the economics of foraging behavior of rats, examining the role of the energetic costs and benefits in feeding. Her committee was chaired by Howard Rachlin, whose influence made her sensitive to the role of temporal costs as well as energetic costs in determining the value of food rewards. During a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago, Dr. Mitchell worked with Harriet de Wit focusing on using behavioral economics as an explanation for use of alcohol, cigarettes, and amphetamine in humans. Dr. Mitchell moved her lab to OHSU in 2001 from the University of New Hampshire to devote more time to research examining why drug users tend to be more impulsive than non-drug users using human and animal models. Most recently she has returned to her earlier interests in energetic costs and her research has increased its scope to include effort-related decision-making in clinical populations and understanding the genetic bases of choice. She has been continuously funded through NIH since 2003, has served on numerous NIH study sections as a member and as an ad hoc participant, and has received awards for education and for mentorship. She is currently the Science Board coordinator for the Association of Behavior Analysis International, President-Elect of the Society for the Quantitative Analysis of Behavior, and an Associate Editor for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.



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