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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Paper Session #445
Behavior Analysis and Comparative Psychology
Monday, May 25, 2020
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Marriott Marquis, Level M2, Marquis Ballroom 1/2
Area: EAB
Instruction Level: Advanced
Chair: Alliston K. Reid (Wofford College)
Measuring Transfer of Stimulus Control as Pigeons Acquire New Skills
Domain: Basic Research
ALLISTON K. REID (Wofford College), Sara Futch (North Carolina State University), Vanessa Zarubin (University of California at Davis), Julia Smith (University of Michigan)
Abstract: Transfer of stimulus control is an essential feature of many acquisition procedures. Learning new behavioral skills often involves the transfer of stimulus control from discriminative stimuli present during training to new cues that gain control with extended practice, often leading to skill autonomy. We examined how simple behavioral skills (cued key-peck sequences) become autonomous by developing reliable cues during practice when the originally predictive cues were removed. Phase 1 established dual stimulus control in a two-alternative conditional-discrimination procedure implemented within a multiple schedule. As exteroceptive cues were degraded and eliminated over three successive phases, two groups of pigeons solved different discrimination problems by transferring stimulus control to other available exteroceptive or endogenous cues. By measuring conditional discriminations in signaled vs. unsignaled components, we measured the dynamics of stimulus control to initial cues and to those that replaced them. When the final phase eliminated all discriminative stimuli, pigeons achieved autonomy by developing a new behavioral unit that did not appear to involve the transfer of stimulus control. Transfer of stimulus control to other available exteroceptive and endogenous cues is one process that may lead to skill autonomy, but it may not be the only one.

Why Monkeys Boop: Social Tolerance, Over "Knowledge," Antecedes Muzzle Contact in Wild Vervet Monkeys

Domain: Basic Research
CHRISTINA NORD (University of Lethbridge), Tyler Bonnell (University of Lethbridge), Marcus Dostie (University of Lethbridge), S. Henzi (University of Lethbridge), Louise Barrett (University of Lethbridge)

Muzzle contact, where one animal brings its muzzle into close proximity of another, has often been hypothesized as a rather straight-forward means of socially-mediated food investigation. However, such a function has never been clearly demonstrated. Using 2,707 observations of muzzle contact occurring across three troops of wild vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus), we tested this social learning hypothesis. While we found that muzzle contact can afford social learning, muzzle contact does not appear to be a behavior phylogenetically selected for a specialized social learning function, but rather a behavior mediated by operant learning which can then afford social learning. Rather than target specific individuals in order to gain information, we show that some animals serve as discriminative stimuli for approach for others, and that foraging animals serve as discriminative stimuli for food availability. We believe that animals engage in muzzle contact as a low-cost means of maintaining a baseline rate of information about their environment. We discuss these findings in light of the social learning literature, and highlight the need for similar analyses of behavioral function in the discussion of the evolution of social learning.

Bumble Bees as Model Organisms for Behavior Analysis and Comparative Psychology
Domain: Basic Research
Abstract: This presentation discusses four experiments investigating bumble bees as model organisms for behavioral research. Recently, invertebrate research has become more common due to the inexpensive nature of maintaining invertebrate laboratories. Bumble bees are one such new model organism. The first two experiments that will be discussed are variations of a classical conditioning procedure where bumble bees learn to associate an odor or color with sucrose. The results showed that captive-bred bees had low rates of unconditioned responses that made conditioning difficult, while wild-caught bees showed robust unconditioned responses and subsequent conditioned responses. The second set of experiments investigated a novel behavior, the disturbance leg-lift response (DLR). The first experiment investigated how the DLR was affected by antecedents, and what sequences of behavior were elicited. The results showed that the DLR often precedes stinging, but not biting, and may function as a warning signal for stinging. A second experiment compared habituation of the DLR in captive and wild populations, and found that both showed a similar rate of habituation, but the initial response rate of captive bees was higher. Discussion will be made on these findings, as well as a comparison of bumble bees to other model organisms.

Testing and Practice Effects With Typically Developing Learners in Within-Subject Research Designs: A Preliminary Investigation

Domain: Basic Research
PAUL MAHONEY, II (Amego, Inc.), Bryan J. Blair (Long Island University), Michael F. Dorsey (Amego Inc.)

Within-subject designs are uniquely able to reduce threats to internal validity with repeated measurements of performances and measurement of effects of the repeated application of the independent variable. However, in some skill acquisition research with typically developing learners (e.g., college students) that use non-arbitrary stimuli (i.e., actual academic content) traditional experimental designs might be insufficient in mitigating threats to internal validity, particularly with regard to testing (i.e., practice or exposure) and history effects. An analysis of previously published research and preliminary data suggest that when identical tests are conducted on a single day, performances (measured as percent correct for a given test) for typically developing learners on computerized selection-based tests improve from the first test to the second test in the absence of experimenter/system provided reinforcement. We do not believe that any published studies have investigated this possible threat to research designs that are currently being used by experimenters (e.g., non-concurrent multiple baseline across participants designs with one or two pretests prior to intervention). In addition to the presentation of our findings, we discuss possible solutions and options available to researchers that might better control for threats to internal validity inherent in skill acquisition research.




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