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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Invited Symposium #203
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Research Funding: Introduction to NIMH's Research Domain Criteria and the Potential Application in Behavioral Studies
Sunday, May 24, 2015
2:00 PM–2:50 PM
Lila Cockrell Theatre (CC)
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Suzanne H. Mitchell (Oregon Health & Science University)
CE Instructor: Suzanne H. Mitchell, Ph.D.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has a strategic plan that calls for “the development, for research purposes, of new ways of classifying psychopathology based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures.” Collectively, these dimensions form the Research Domain Criteria project (RDoC) and include several dimensions of potential interest to behavior analysts, for example, positive valence systems that incorporating reward learning, responsiveness to reward, and preference-based decision-making. Several funding initiatives based on better characterizing these dimensions have been instituted and future consideration of these dimensions in guiding funding priorities is acknowledged. This symposium describes the various dimensions of the RDoC relevant to behavior analysts, and potential knowledge gaps that behavioral research could address. The symposium also provides several examples from established investigators illustrating how these dimensions may be applied to behavioral research focused directly on mental health and on drug abuse, which is associated with co-occurring mental health disorders, as well as these investigators’ perspectives on this dimensional system of behavior classification.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Addiction, ADHD
Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, practitioners, and graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to: (1) describe the NIMH Research Domain Criteria initiative; (2) describe how behavioral principles can address at least two knowledge gaps identified in the Research Domain Criteria initiative; and (3) describe one example of how behavior analytic research fits within this NIMH funding initiative.

What are the Research Domain Criteria and Why Should Behavior Analysts Care?

SUZANNE H. MITCHELL (Oregon Health & Science University)

While DSM5 provides ways to classify psychopathologies, the National Institute of Mental Health has recognized that understanding the antecedents and progression of disorders, as well as stimulating research on new treatments, may require new ways of classifying mental disorders based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures. The implementation of this strategy has been named the Research Domain Criteria Project (RDoC). This talk will describe the background impetus for the RDoC project, the various domains of interest and the constructs included in those domains, and levels of analysis (from circuits to behavior) identified as critical research foci by work groups of scientists. However, domains and constructs of specific interest to behavioral analysis will provide the main focus. A brief overview of the knowledge gaps identified by NIMH and areas of high priority for research will be described, including explicit suggestions from NIMH for how these domains should be used to focus future research efforts by basic and clinician-scientists.

Suzanne H. Mitchell, Ph.D., is a professor at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in the Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatry Departments. She obtained her undergraduate degree at the University of Hull, England, and her Ph.D. at State Univeristy of New York-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. During that time she also began collaborating with Jerry Richards on delay discounting studies with rats. Dr. Mitchell moved her lab to OHSU in 2001 from the University of New Hampshire to devote more time to research, particularly looking into why drug users tend to be more impulsive than nondrug users using human and animal models. She has received funding from various institutes including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; National Institute on Drug Abuse; and National Institutes of Health, has served on several study sections as a member and as an ad hoc participant and has received awards for education and mentoring.

Altered Reinforcement Processes and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

SCOTT KOLLINS (Duke University)

ADHD is a common psychiatric condition that is characterized clinically by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. There has long been recognition that this disorder is associated with disruptions in responsiveness to reward and reinforcement learning. More recently, the neurobiological and neuropharmacological substrates underlying these disruptions have been increasingly elucidated. It is argued that careful behavior analytic inquiry into the nature of behavior-consequence relations among those with ADHD can help advance knowledge about ADHD and its association with other problem behaviors, like substance abuse, and that such an experimental approach lies squarely within the National Institute of Mental Health RDoC framework for conceptualizing psychopathology. Examples of human operant and behavioral pharmacology studies of patients with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD will be reviewed and discussed.

Dr. Scott Kollins is a tenured professor and vice chair for Research Strategy and Development in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine. He is also the director of the Duke Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Program. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Duke University in 1992 and earned his master's and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology from Auburn University in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Dr. Kollins completed his clinical internship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he served as chief intern. Following his internship, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University for three years, before joining the Duke faculty in 2000. He has published more than 120 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. During the past 10 years, Dr. Kollins's research has been supported by five different federal agencies, including the National Institue on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Environmental Mental Health, the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and the Environmental Protection Agency. He currently holds a mid-career K24 award from the NIDA. He also has served as principal investigator on more than 20 industry-funded clinical trials and is a consultant to a number of pharmaceutical companies in the area of ADHD clinical psychopharmacology. He is an elected member of both the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association Division 28 (Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse). He has served as a standing member of the Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities study section and also served as an ad-hoc reviewer for 10 additional NIH study sections and seven international granting agencies. He is an associate editor for the Journal of Attention Disorders and has reviewed for more than 50 different peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Kollins is a licensed clinical psychologist and maintains a practice through the ADHD Program's outpatient clinic. His research interests are in the areas of psychopharmacology and the intersection of ADHD and substance abuse, particularly cigarette smoking.
Toward a New Science of Psychopathology: Trans-disease Processes
WARREN K. BICKEL (Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute)
Abstract: The RDoCs approach constitutes a new paradigm for the study of psychopathology and its beginning indicates the utility of the DSM as a research tool has reached its apogee. One component of the RDoC approach is its proposition that "fundamental dimensions cut across traditional disorder categories" (NIMH, 2012). As such, this system explicitly acknowledges the notion of trans-disease processes (Bickel et al., 2012) and legitimizes its study as a goal of research activity. In this presentation, Dr. Warren K. Bickel will use research on the excessive discounting of delayed rewards to illustrate that it functions as a trans-disease process that undergirds multiple disorders and show initial evidence suggesting that it may be among the most robust processes relative to a variety of deficits observed in addiction.
Dr. Warren K. Bickel is has been the director for the Addiction Recovery Research Center at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and a professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech since 2011. He received his Ph.D. in developmental and child psychology in 1983 from the University of Kansas, completed postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1985, and then joined the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In 1987, he relocated to the University of Vermont, where he became a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology and interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry for three years. He moved to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2004. There, he held the Wilbur D. Mills Chair of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention and was the director of the Center for Addiction Research. He also served as director of the College of Public Health's Center for the Study of Tobacco Addiction at UAMS and was the associate director of the Psychiatric Research Institute. Dr. Bickel is the recipient of numerous grants, awards, and honors including a National Institutes of Health Method to Extend Research in Time Award from the National Institite on Drug Abuse and the Don Hake Translational Research Award from the American Psychological Association, and has served as president for a number of large professional societies.



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