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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Symposium #133
Operant Conditioning in Invertebrates
Sunday, May 24, 2015
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
007B (CC)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Christopher Dinges (Oklahoma State University)
Abstract: Although behaviorists often seek to generalize the principles of behavior to a diverse range of species, invertebrates seldom receive much attention in behavioral research. This is unfortunate as invertebrates are excellent candidates for research in behavior analysis for several reasons. First, invertebrate research is often less expensive and less restrictive in methods than research conducted with traditional vertebrate organisms. Second, invertebrates are practical subjects for classroom experiments and hands-on student exercises due to small size, low cost and low maintenance. Finally, many species, such as the honey bee, have significant roles in agriculture and the ecosystem. In this symposium, four presentations will discuss operant conditioning in invertebrates. The first talk describes two studies: the first demonstrates operant control of preferred stimuli on the arbitrary responses of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches in an automated operant chamber; the second demonstrates control of water deprivation as a motivating operation for maze completion in the American Red Claw Crayfish. The second talk describes a study demonstrating the reversal of the negative phototaxic reflex of brown planaria in a place preference assay. The third talk describes a study demonstrating the effects of master-yoked role reversal in a place preference assay in honey bees. The presentations will relate the findings to the behavioral ecology of the subject species, and compare and contrast the trends in invertebrate learning with what is commonly observed in traditional vertebrate organisms.
Keyword(s): Invertebrates, Maze Learning, Operant Conditioning, Place Preference
Recent Developments in Invertebrate Operant Learning Using Cockroaches and Crayfish
KELTI OWENS (Southern Illinois University), Ashley Shayter (Southern Illinois University), Brian Morgan (Southern Illinois University), Jordan Belisle (Southern Illinois University), Mark R. Dixon (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The field of contemporary behavior analysis was developed largely through operant experiments conducted with vertebrate organisms, such as rats and pigeons. Expenses and ethical considerations surrounding their use, however, have led to the elimination of these laboratories in many universities. Recent developments in invertebrate operant research have provided an alternative to vertebrate operant laboratories that provide a less expensive option, as well as belie many of the ethical consideration surrounding their use. The present discussion will highlight two studies that were conducted with cockroaches and crayfish, as well as discuss the utility of invertebrate research more generally. The first study demonstrated the operant control of preferred stimuli on the arbitrary responses of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches in an automated operant chamber. The second study demonstrated the control of water deprivation as a motivating operation for maze completion in the American Red Claw Crayfish. The implications of these data and avenues for future research are discussed.
Conditioned Place Preference in Invertebrates
BRADY J. PHELPS (South Dakota State University), Linda Muckey (South Dakota State University), Nick Thompson (South Dakota State University), Shafiqur Rahman (South Dakota State University)
Abstract: The process of establishing a conditioned place preference (CPP) is a partiality, on the part of laboratory animals, to spend more time in an environment in which a psychoactive drug or other reinforcer had been experienced, relative to an environment in which a placebo or no other reinforcer had been localized. This conditioned preference is the result of a drug functioning as an unconditioned stimulus in the process of classical conditioning, but some theorists regard CPP as being a respondent-operant interaction. The CPP protocol involves three phases, pretest or baseline, conditioning and posttest. In pretest, the animal is allowed to move about an enclosure in which distinctive contextual cues are differentially placed in specific portions or locations in the enclosure. The time spent in the different areas of the apparatus is measured as a dependent variable. In conditioning, the animal is confined to one portion of the enclosure and is exposed to a psychoactive drug or other reinforcer. Following this, the animal is again given free access to the entire enclosure and the time spent in the area in which the reinforcer had been experienced is measured relative to the time spent herein in pretest. If the animal spends more time in the reinforcer-paired area in posttest relative to pretest, a conditioned preference for the place in which the reinforcer had been found is said to be established. The CPP procedure has been used with a number of different species, both vertebrate and invertebrate; amongst the invertebrate species, crayfish, fruitflies and planaria have been used as subjects. In the present study, the natural preference for dark/un-illuminated environments exhibited by planaria was reversed by the pairing of a 1% and a 2% sucrose solution with a brightly-lit environment. The pretest environment in this case was a petri dish, filled with water, half covered with a dark covering for a five-minute pretest. The conditioning consisted of placing the planaria in another petri dish, placed on white paper, under illumination by a 60 watt bulb but with the sucrose solutions in place of water for a 30 minute period. The planaria are then returned to the same context as used in pretest. In data collected so far, the majority of the subjects exposed to the 1% and the 2% sucrose solution have their dark preference reversed to be a preference for the light. The dark preference is not altered by exposure to water vehicle in the majority of the subjects.
Aversive Conditioning in Honey Bees: Influence of Master/Yoked Role Reversal in Place Preference Conditioning
CHRISTOPHER DINGES (Oklahoma State University), Chris Varnon (Oklahoma State University), David Craig (Oklahoma State University), Charles I. Abramson (Oklahoma State University), Arian Avalos (University of Puerto Rico), Tugrul Giray (University of Puerto Rico)
Abstract: Honey bees provide an advantageous animal model to investigate the interplay between brain and behavior. The following investigation sets the stage for stress protein analysis as it relates to situation control in a master (control)/yoked (no control) paradigm. In this study, we subject honey bees to a place preference assay by way of signaled punishment. Two bees were run in tandem, one master and one yoked. Master animals were shocked upon entering the incorrect side of a shuttle box paired with either blue or yellow. Yoked animals are shocked when the master is shocked and have no control of shock administration. Sessions are divided into three trials and following the first trial, the honey bees’ master/yoked roles are reversed. Treatment honey bees’ performance more closely mimicked that of baseline (no shock) performance when master/yoked roles were reversed when compared to sessions that did not include role reversals. Following each session, bees were labeled and frozen for later analysis of heatshock protein expression.



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