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 #341
CE Offered: BACB
A Glimpse Behind the Curtain: How Reexamining the Threshold of Operant Behavior May Improve Clinical Outcomes
Sunday, May 26, 2024
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Marriott Downtown, Level 4, Franklin Hall 12-13
Area: CBM/BPN; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jared T Armshaw (University North Texas)
CE Instructor: Brennan Patrick Armshaw, Ph.D.

This symposium will broadly explore the scope of behavior analysis and its flexibility of application. The symposium will address topics ranging from: behavior medicine, and the nature of the flexible unit, to merging neuroscientific and behavioral principles to improve stroke rehabilitative outcomes. The first presentation provides conceptual and empirical foundations in support of non-traditional areas of application of ABA, with a focus on the medical realm. The author will focus on how subthreshold operant relations (i.e., neuromuscular activity) promote the expansion and application of ABA to improve the quality of life of the people behavior science can serve. The second author expands upon the notion of neuromuscular activity as an operant. The author will present data from a basic translation study focusing on the different operant dimensions in neuromuscular responses. In the final part of the symposium, we shift our attention to stroke rehabilitation. Here, we explore how behaviorists can integrate neuroscientific principles with behavioral principles to enhance post-stroke recovery. This symposium aims to provide a sampling of diverse and non-traditional applications of behavior science.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Having a basic understanding of behavior principles is sufficient for this symposium.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able: 1) provide examples of the scope in which behavior principles can be applied, 2) provide an explanation of why subthreshold responses can be considered operants, and 3) be familiar with how physiological systems like neuromodulator are beneficial to drive recovery following brain damage in relation to behavioral rehabilitation

The Lost Operant: Does Applied Behavior Analysis Have a Place in Neuromuscular Rehabilitation?

(Applied Research)
BRENNAN PATRICK ARMSHAW (West Virgina University )

Applied behavior analysts leverage the scientific foundation of behavior analysis to improve the quality of life of those they serve. Historically, the scope of its application has largely focused on responses above the observable threshold. The application of the applied behavior analysis (ABA) has demonstrated particular success in the areas of autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities. The success applied behaviorists have experienced should not be conflated with the scope of its application. Rather, the success should stand as an exemplar of the power of establishing and applying a sophisticated understanding of operant dynamics. The utility of arranging operant dynamics to promote behavior change has been demonstrated when working with observable responses. However, the opportunity to improve the quality of life is not limited to responses traditionally considered observable. This presentation has three aims. First, highlight nontraditional areas of application. Particular emphasis will be placed on the medical realm where the target response is one that falls below the observable threshold, neuromuscular activity. Second, discuss the flexible nature of the operant and potential gaps in our understanding. Finally, suggest how behaviorists can engage in research and practice designed to expand our understanding of such operants and promote additional areas of application.


Investigating the Use of a Limited Hold Feedback Strategy to Change Electromyographic Waveform Characteristics During Isometric Contractions of the Vastus Medialis Oblique

(Basic Research)
J. LOGAN GIBSON (University of North Texas), Manish Vaidya (IBSTR)

Early use of the muscles involved in knee flexion and contraction is associated with improved rehabilitation outcomes following a total knee replacement. Timing of muscle activation in the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO) plays an important role in activities such as standing and walking. While there are benefits to using monitoring via Surface Electromyography and contingent feedback to increase peak amplitudes, we are not aware of empirical work investigating specific monitoring and feedback strategies focused on altering the characteristics of the waveform, such as the attack slope which would be interpreted as a change in timing of the response. Using healthy volunteers, we compared the speed at which maximal responding occurs between 3 distinct criteria conditions in which the participant has a given amount of time following the beginning of a muscle contraction to reach peak amplitude: three seconds, two seconds, and 1.25 seconds. These data suggest that the addition of a limited hold component when added to the contingency, may improve the response timing of the VMO.


Where the Sidewalk Bridges: An Investigation Into Neuroscience and Behavior Tactics in Stroke Rehabilitation

(Basic Research)
JARED T ARMSHAW (University North Texas), April M. Becker (University of North Texas; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)

In this presentation, we will explore how behaviorists can harmonize neuroscientific principles and tactics with behavioral principles in the frame of stroke rehabilitation, a major cause of disability. We will discuss how behavioral principles applied to stroke rehabilitation may be augmented by or applied in coordination with physiological or brain-stimulation-based strategies. We will present the translational results of a study utilizing one such example in which we manipulated the dopaminergic system, a neuromodulatory system that facilitates the (re)organization of neural systems crucial for functional behavior patterns, in tandem with rehabilitation to augment post-stroke recovery outcomes a translational rodent model. We will discuss the implications and new potentials of this approach, which utilizes brain stimulation rather than pharmaceutical intervention and, therefore, brings behavioral timing to the foreground of physiological interventions. We will then discuss these results in the wider context of rehabilitation research and the need to improve behavioral and physiological approaches to rehabilitation in a broader scope.




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