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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #237
Behavior Under the Microscope: Neurobehavioral and Microbehavioral Pieces of the Puzzle
Sunday, May 26, 2024
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 102 AB
Area: BPN/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Daniele Ortu (University of North Texas)
Discussant: Jun'ichi Yamamoto (Tokyo Metropolitan University, Faculty of Systems Design)

The observability of behavior depends on the resolution of adopted instrumentation. Consistently, in the past 15 years Behavior Analysts have been incorporating in their experimental and theoretical analyses data collected via measurement tools traditionally used in other fields (e.g. Neuroscience.) As behavior shifts rapidly in response to changing environments, tools like Eye Tracking and Electroencephalography (EEG) can capture behavior otherwise below the threshold of observability. Moreover, other tools like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (TACS) allow experimenting with the elements of the Neurobehavioral movement cycle. The talks in this symposium will cover recent experimental and theoretical advances made possible by the adoption of these technologies, and each of the tools described will be introduced propaedeutically in a short preliminary overview. The described data will be also interpreted in relation to potential future developments in the fields of Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) and Brain to Brain Interfaces (BBIs.)

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Electroencephalography, Eye Tracking, Neuroscience, TMS-TACS

Neural Conditioning With Paired Associative Stimulation

KILCHOON CHO (Tokyo Metropolitan University), Makoto Suzuki (Faculty of Health Sciences, Tokyo Kasei University; Faculty of Systems Design, Tokyo Metropolitan University), Jun'ichi Yamamoto (Tokyo Metropolitan University, Faculty of Systems Design)

Paired associative stimulation (PAS) is an experimental paradigm used to induce plasticity in the human motor cortex. It involves repetitive stimulation of the peripheral nerve along with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the cortex. PAS leads to a long-term increase in corticospinal excitability within the primary motor cortex (M1), akin to processes associated with long-term potentiation (LTP). The debate over whether LTP and long-term depression of cortical synaptic strength influence behaviors remains ongoing. To address this, we conducted a study to assess whether behavior is affected when PAS is synchronized or desynchronized with sensory signals associated with behavior. In our behavioral task, participants were required to abduct their right index finger upon hearing a beep. The study design employed the AB method, with an asynchronous condition followed by a synchronous condition. TMS was precisely timed to coincide with the arrival of the sensory signal at the M1. Our experimental results demonstrated an increase in motor evoked potentials, a reduction in reaction time, and an increase in maximal velocity during the synchronous condition. These findings suggest that behavior can be modulated by PAS, whether it is synchronized or desynchronized with sensory signals related to the behavior.

Effect of Neural Conditioning on Motor Cortex Oscillation and Inhibition
MAKOTO SUZUKI (Faculty of Health Sciences, Tokyo Kasei University; Faculty of Systems Design, Tokyo Metropolitan University), Jun'ichi Yamamoto (Tokyo Metropolitan University, Faculty of Systems Design)
Abstract: The effect of neural conditioning using transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) frequency on the oscillations and inhibition of the motor cortex underlying behaviors remains a matter of debate. Therefore, this study investigated how different tACS frequencies differentially modulate motor cortex oscillation and inhibition. We first determined the optimal positioning of tACS electrodes through an electric field simulation constructed from magnetic resonance images. We determined that the Cz-CP1 configuration based on the International 10–20 system was optimal, as it resulted in higher electric field values and minimized the intra-individual differences in the electric field. Therefore, tACS was delivered to the hand motor area through this arrangement at a fixed frequency of 10 Hz (alpha-tACS) or 20 Hz (beta-tACS) with a peak-to-peak amplitude of 0.6 mA for 20 min. We found that alpha- and beta-tACS resulted in larger alpha and beta oscillations, respectively, compared with the oscillations observed after sham-tACS. In addition, alpha- and beta-tACS decreased the amplitudes of conditioned motor evoked potentials and increased alpha and beta activity, respectively. Correspondingly, alpha- and beta-tACSs enhanced cortical inhibition. These findings suggest that using tACS frequency in neural conditioning differentially affects motor cortex oscillation and inhibition related to the enactment of behaviors.

Effect of Null Stimuli in Matching-to-Sample(MTS) Procedures on Sorting and Eye Movements

LIVE FAY BRAATEN (Oslo Metropolitan University), Erik Arntzen (Oslo Metropolitan University)

Some experiments have trained only two stimulus classes when testing for stimulus equivalence class formation (SECF). An unfortunate outcome of having only two comparison stimuli is that this can lead to the choice response being under rejection control and not selection control. Therefore, some researchers have added a third comparison stimulus, a “null” stimulus, to hinder rejection control without training three classes. The present experiment aims to investigate the effect the "null" stimulus has (1) on SECF, (2) in a sorting test, and (3) on eye movements. Eight adult participants are trained in a matching-to-sample procedure in two conditions: one in which two 3-member stimulus classes are trained and tested, and one condition in which two 7-member stimulus classes are trained and tested. All participants are exposed to both conditions, half in the opposite order. Each condition contains a pre- and post-sorting of stimuli, including null stimuli. Eye movements during the MTS procedure are measured. Preliminary results show that larger classes reduce SECF, if the trained classes are sorted correctly, the “null” stimuli are sorted as one class. Fixation time to incorrect and “null” stimuli are similar in training, and there is a higher fixation time to correct comparison stimuli when participants respond correctly in the test and the opposite when they respond incorrectly.


Free-Operant Event-Related Potential Research: Exploring the P3A Effect

DANIELE ORTU (University of North Texas), Ryan Matthew Bugg (University of North Texas), Jesus Rosales-Ruiz (University of North Texas), Bryn Harris (University of North Texas), MK Moore (University of North Texas), Cameron Montgomery Scallan (University of North Texas)

Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) are a subtype of Electroencephalography that captures moment-to-moment neural activity. ERP research, similarly to most neuroimaging, has been constrained to rigid experimental protocols based on discrete trial procedures. Here we propose research that is free of discrete trial constraints and is entirely driven by participants. Gathering neural responses in an unconstrained free operant procedure may allow examining how a brain response may look like in more natural unconstrained self-paced conditions without abandoning the rigor of a laboratory setting. Here we show that the traditional interpretation of some neural effects may have to be revised, as the anterior P3 effect can be shown to be present with highly repeated stimuli in a VR5 compared to a FR5 schedule. This experiment merges two fruitful lines of research that have so far been isolated from one another and creates a semi-naturalistic approach to measuring ERPs featuring a high degree of ecological validity.




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