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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Paper Session #446
Free-Operant Event-Related Potential Research: Reevaluating the P3a Effect
Monday, May 30, 2022
10:00 AM–10:25 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 154
Area: BPN
Chair: Ryan Matthew Bugg (University of North Texas)
Free-Operant Event-Related Potential Research: Reevaluating the P3a Effect
Domain: Basic Research
RYAN MATTHEW BUGG (University of North Texas), Daniele Ortu (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas)
Abstract: A relevant development in the study of brain-behavior relations comes from experiments that measure neural activity using Electroencephalography (EEG). In a technique called Event Related Potentials (ERPs), EEG activity is time-locked to experimentally relevant events, such as stimuli presented to the subject, thereby isolating specific neural responses of interest. The P3A is a brain response distributed anteriorly on the human scalp. The label derives from the response consisting of a positive peak, occurring at approximately 300ms post stimulus presentation. The P3A response is typically obtained in a discrete trial three stimulus oddball paradigm in which a frequent stimulus occasioning a response (target) is alternated with an infrequent stimulus (nontarget). A third kind of stimulus - unrelated to the task (e.g. a dog barking) is presented, originating a P3A response. The P3A has been interpreted in the past as a response indicative of “novelty processing” or of an orienting response (e.g. Wetzel, N., Schröger, E., & Widmann, A. 2013). This study is an extension of a previous study in our lab by Ortu and Rosales-Ruiz (2015). Both studies used a free operant procedure of alternating FR5 and VR5 schedules of reinforcement. Our results are partially inconsistent with the traditional interpretation of the P3A, showing a larger P3A response following the stimulus preceding the consummatory response in the VR5 condition compared to the FR5 condition. In our experiment, the stimulus preceding the consummatory response does not differ in probability or physical stimulus properties across experimental conditions compared to traditional P3A experiments, pointing to the relevance of schedule effects in eliciting the P3A response and more generally to the importance of free operant procedures in characterizing neuroscientific events.



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