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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #359
Bridging Two Worlds: Radical Behaviorist Approaches to Investigating the Role of Brain Systems in Behavior
Sunday, May 29, 2022
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 154
Area: BPN/PCH; Domain: Theory
Chair: April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Abstract: While the separation of Behavior Analysis from physiology permitted critically independent growth on both sides, even early behaviorists acknowledged that the two domains would eventually connect to one another (Skinner 1975). Since that time, Neuroscience has grown into a large and technologically advanced field ripe for connection to behavioral science. As behavior analysts, we are interested in how environmental variables influence and select responses, and the role of brain systems in instantiating these behavior-environment relations constitutes an exciting area of future work. Among these systems, the diffuse neuromodulatory systems could be of particular interest to the behavior analyst because their activities are closely correlated with contingencies of punishment and reinforcement, and they powerfully influence the functional brain changes that occur as a result of learning. In this symposium, we will speak about three such systems: the Dopaminergic Ventral Tegmental Area, the Cholinergic Basal Forebrain, and The Oxytocinergic system. We will discuss current research on all three topics together with the potential advantages of investigating them using a behavior analytic framework, which enables potentially fruitful basic and translational experimental approaches.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Conditioning, Neuroscience, Social Behavior, Stroke
Addressing Stroke Recovery: With Dopaminergic Manipulations in a Radical Behaviorist Framework
JARED T ARMSHAW (University of North Texas), April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Abstract: Strokes are a leading cause of disability globally; re-evaluation and adaptation of the current therapeutic approaches are imperative. Behavior science and neuroscience stand at the forefront of health sciences to address the gap in therapeutics for stroke recovery. Following any form of neurological damage, our brains are in a state of flux as the brain rearranges to establish new neural networks that aid in the emittance operant behavior. Establishing new neural networks is a form of neural plasticity, and the dopaminergic system is one of the four main neuromodulatory systems responsible for driving plasticity. Of particular interest is the phasic activation of dopaminergic Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), which often occurs upon behavioral reinforcement. This talk will address how a radical behaviorist framework in concert with dopamine manipulations can be employed to address stroke recovery. However, manipulating the dopaminergic system or employing operant techniques in isolation from each other may be insufficient for optimal functional recovery. Therefore, a multifaceted therapeutic approach is required-- dopaminergic manipulation in conjunction with operant behavior techniques.
Contributions of the Basal Forebrain to Conditioning
GRAYSON BUTCHER (University of North Texas), April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Abstract: The structure, projections, and neural functions of neuromodulatory systems make them strong candidates for understanding how neural processes instantiate conditioning. A wealth of behavioral neuroscientific research has implicated a role for each of these systems in multiple behavioral paradigms. Experiments have demonstrated that one neuromodulatory system, the cholinergic basal forebrain (CBF), contributes to acquisition and/or maintenance of behavior across multiple classical and operant conditioning procedures. This research has outpaced a systematic treatment of the data, in general, as well as a treatment in terms of behavior analytic processes, in particular. Here, we review some of the most current and salient research on the contributions of the CBF to conditioning and highlight ways in which a reformulation in terms of behavioral processes may clarify the connections between neural and behavioral processes and suggest future empirical work. Additionally, we discuss how behavioral neuroscience research of this kind challenges us to sharpen our conceptualization of core behavior analytic concepts like acquisition, maintenance, and reinforcement.
Oxytocin and Social Consequences
CARLOS LOPEZ (University of North Texas), April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Abstract: Oxytocin is a peptide that acts as a neuromodulator in the central nervous system. Oxytocin (OT) studies have suggested that it promotes prosocial behavior, making it a promising target for translational research. Although OT has been shown to promote prosocial behavior, studies have also shown its effects on promoting antisocial behavior towards outgroups or strangers. In the attempt to address these opposing regularities, we wish to investigate the effects of OT on social consequences. This talk will explore how the behavior analytic framework may assist in further understanding how OT may modulate prosocial and antisocial behavior by either potentiating or depotentiating social consequences. Furthermore, we wish to explore how OT in the prefrontal cortex, as opposed to other regions of the brain, affects social consequences. Studies have shown the involvement of the prefrontal cortex in conditioned reinforcement. Given that social behavior contains complex conditioned reinforcers, the prefrontal cortex as an area of OT infusion is of interest.



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