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.


44th Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2018

Event Details

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Symposium #196
Behavioral Gerontology Applications From Basic to Applied Research in Older Adults With Neurocognitive Disorder
Sunday, May 27, 2018
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Manchester Grand Hyatt, Coronado Ballroom DE
Area: DEV/VRB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jonathan C. Baker (Western Michigan University)
Discussant: Rebecca A Sharp (Bangor University)

The research in behavioral gerontology is a small but important line of behavior-analytic research. A growing aging population with growing prevalence of diagnosed neurocognitive disorder means that this line of research is essential, and will help to identify the role that applied behavior analysis can play in treatment of behaviors associated with neurocognitive disorder. Successful treatment should result in increased quality of life for older adults diagnosed with the disorder. This symposium will include four talks across a range of topics including: Topic 1: Mand training for an older adults with a communication deficit Topic 2: The Effects of Reinforcement and Extinction on Responding by Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment Topic 3: Maintenance of matching-to-sample performance in a woman with neurocognitive disorder Topic 4: Reducing inappropriate spitting in an older adult with vascular dementia

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Behavioral Gerontology, Neurocognitive Disorder

The Effects of Reinforcement and Extinction on Responding by Older Adults With Cognitive Impairment

(Basic Research)
JORDAN BAILEY (Western Michigan University), Sandra Garcia (Western Michigan University), Jonathan C. Baker (Western Michigan University)

The effects of extinction have been demonstrated in community dwelling older adults (Plaud, Plaud, & Duvillard, 1999), but to date, the effects of extinction have not been empirically demonstrated for older adults with neurocognitive disorder. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to examine whether withdrawal of a reinforcer from a previously reinforced behavior would result in behavior change for this population. Preferred stimuli (pictures) were identified prior to implementation through use of a preference assessment followed by reinforcer assessment. The effects of the schedules were assessed with a computer program on a tablet PC. Conditions were signaled by the presentation of various shapes along with the buttons. The effects of reinforcement were compared with extinction and/or non-contingent reinforcement schedules. The experimental arrangement consisted of a presentation of two buttons that (a) would activate a preferred picture; (b) produce nothing (in the extinction condition); or (c) produced nothing (but pictures were available on a time-based schedule). These data will be discussed with respect to the implications for both basic and applied research. This study is a replication of a previous study conducted by Baker, Seefeldt, Hathaway, Fairchild, Hood, Beattie, and Ringdahl (2013).


Maintenance of Matching-to-Sample Performance in a Woman with Neurocognitive Disorder

(Applied Research)
ANETTE BROGÅRD ANTONSEN (Oslo and Akershus University College), Erik Arntzen (Oslo and Akershus University College)

In the present study an 89-year old woman with the neurocognitive disorder, Alzheimer disease, participated. The purpose of the experiment was to study stimulus control issues and to study how the relations between stimuli were maintained over time. The participant was presented for different types of sorting tests and matching-to sample (MTS) training and tests for emergent relations. The stimuli used were pictures of her relatives, their names, and their family relation. Furthermore, the participant was presented for two follow-up tests. The first follow-up test nine months later including sorting tests. In the second follow-up, the participant was presented for both MTS training and tests, as in the conditions she was presented for one year earlier. The results from the follow-up tests showed that the percentage of correct sorting of stimuli decreased as a function of time. However, the results from the MTS training were maintained in the second follow-up condition.


Reducing Inappropriate Spitting in an Older Adult With Vascular Dementia

(Applied Research)
SANDRA GARCIA (Western Michigan University), Andrea Perez (Western Michigan University), Jonathan C. Baker (Western Michigan University)

In the presence of neurocognitive impairment, older adults often engage in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD; verbal or physical aggression, wandering). To address these behaviors, researchers have implemented behavioral interventions to reduce BPSD (Baker, Hanley, & Mathew, 2006; Buchanan & Fisher, 2002); however, no study has implemented an intervention to reduce inappropriate spitting. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to reduce the frequency of spitting on the floor during meals. The participant was a 74-year old male diagnosed with vascular dementia and as deaf. Results from an antecedent functional analysis demonstrated a higher rate of spitting per minute when the participant had access to food and drink in the dining room. The effects of the intervention were evaluated using a reversal design. During this presentation, we will discuss the results and the clinical implications of this study.


Verbal Behavior Assessment and Intervention for an Older Adult With Neurocognitive Impairment

(Applied Research)
ANDREA PEREZ (Western Michigan University), Sandra Garcia (Western Michigan University), Jonathan C. Baker (Western Michigan University)

Older adults diagnosed with neurocognitive disorder often have difficulties with communication. There is a growing literature base that is applying Skinners analysis of verbal behavior to remediate communication deficits among older adults with neurocognitive disorders. Previously, researchers have evaluated intervention strategies aimed at teaching this population picture-based (Trahan,Donaldson, McNabney, and Kahng, 2014) as well as vocal mands (Oleson & Baker, 2014). The efficacy of such training is likely predicated on identifying an existing repertoire or teaching a new repertoire to engage in the mand response. In the current study, we, sought to teach mands to an older adult with neurocognitive disorder. He was diagnosed as deaf, but had never been taught sign language. Additionally, he was reported to have no communicative responses as a result of a traumatic brain injury. During this presentation, we will discuss and review data on the assessment process that helped identified repertoires that we could then use for mand training. This presentation will also focus on the clinical implications for verbal behavior assessments that can inform interventions for older adults with neurocognitive disorders.




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