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.


45th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2019

Event Details

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Paper Session #300
Behavioral Modularity and Skilled Performance
Sunday, May 26, 2019
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Swissôtel, Lucerne Ballroom Level, Lucerne 1/2
Area: PCH
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Adam Hockman (The Mechner Foundation)

Enhancing Skilled Performance Learning With Precision Measurement

Domain: Theory
ADAM HOCKMAN (The Mechner Foundation), Francis Mechner (The Mechner Foundation)

Skilled performers are concerned with the consistent and reliable execution of high-level, complex routines under ever-changing and variable stimulus conditions. Mechner’s Learning and Practicing Skilled Performance describes an efficient and economical performance technology for building and mastering complex skills, including taking dictation, playing a sport, chess, or an instrument, and dancing. This analysis combines behavior analysis and neuroscience with the pedagogical theory of piano performance to describe a cluster of procedures and techniques useful to performers in diverse performance disciplines. However, Mechner’s technology lacks a measurement component that would help monitor progress and motivate the performer. A rate-based measurement tool (like the Standard Celeration Chart used across diverse disciplines) could offer a performer multiple levels of feedback and analysis (celeration, bounce, level, etc.) to help make small tactical and large strategic decisions that learners normally make when learning and practicing a performance. This paper presents the integration of Mechner’s work, behavioral shaping tactics, and pedagogical techniques of other disciplines with a measurement and monitoring system to guide the acquisition and maintenance of complex performances.


Behavioral Modularity: Synthesis Between a Domain-General and Domain-Specific Outlook on Phylogenetic Behavioral Adaptations

Domain: Theory
ØYSTEIN VOGT (Oslo Metropolitan University)

An important step in bridging modern evolutionary biology and behavior analysis is resolving how Darwinian and operant selection combine to shape behavior and behavioral dispositions. In terms of behavior-environment interaction operant conditioning shapes operants, behavioral responses and repertoires. However, in terms of behavior replication – carried, presumably, by neural replicators – operant conditioning may be said to shape behaviorial mechanisms. Mechanisms, many of which were first (at least dispositionally) shaped by Darwinian, reproductive selection in the history of the species. As Skinner expressed, firstly, operant conditioning picks up where natural selection leaves off, and secondly, selection works, and leaves a mechanistic result without any immediate clues to a history of selection. Behavioral modularity deals with how a domain-general mechanism of learning like operant conditioning works with other evolved, more domain-specific mechanims proposed by evolutionary psychology may plausibly work together to produce the amazing and diverse behavioral performances our species displays.




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