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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Paper Session #148
Spatial Behavior and Conditioning in Orange Head Cockroaches
Saturday, May 25, 2024
5:00 PM–5:25 PM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 204 C
Area: EAB
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Chair: Christopher Allen Varnon (University of North Texas)
Spatial Behavior and Conditioning in Orange Head Cockroaches
Domain: Basic Research
CHRISTOPHER ALLEN VARNON (University of North Texas)
Abstract: This presentation discusses several experiments aimed at establishing the orange head cockroach (Eublaberus posticus) as a model organism for behavioral research. Insects and other invertebrates are inexpensive, practical organisms that, despite relative simplicity compared to vertebrates, can show an impressive range of learning abilities. While our previous work demonstrated habituation and classical conditioning, this presentation focuses on a new line of spatial research. In one series of experiments, we investigated exploratory behavior and the effects of alcohol consumption in an open-field test. Subjects were generally active at the start of experimental sessions but showed progressively less activity during one-hour sessions. Subjects that consumed alcohol were generally less active than control subjects. Much like rodents, our cockroaches also displayed thigmotaxis. We also developed a new elevated T-maze protocol to investigate spatial learning. As many of our subjects were reluctant to explore a traditional enclosed T-maze that contained a food reinforcer, we employed an elevated maze with open arms that used access to shelter as a reinforcer. This elevated T-maze facilitated more exploration and learning. We believe the open-field test and elevated T-maze may be useful procedures for future invertebrate work and may help draw useful parallels to findings from vertebrate literature.



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