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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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #278
CE Offered: BACB
How Behavior Develops
Sunday, May 26, 2024
12:00 PM–12:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 108 AB
Area: DEV; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Kieva S. Hranchuk (Brock University)
CE Instructor: Karen Adolph, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: KAREN ADOLPH (New York University)

Behavior is everything we do. It is the outcome of (and provides the input for) multimodal exploration, perception, cognition, motivation, emotion, and social interaction. With age and experience, infant behavior becomes more flexible, adaptive, and functional. How does behavior develop? In the course of everyday activity, infants acquire immense amounts of time-distributed, variable, error-filled practice for every type of foundational behavior researchers have measured. Practice is largely self-motivated, spontaneous, and frequently not goal directed. Formal models suggest that infants’ natural practice regimen—replete with variability and errors—is optimally suited for building a flexible behavioral system to respond adaptively to the constraints and opportunities of continually changing skills in an ever-changing world. I conclude with a proposal that open video sharing will speed progress toward understanding behavior and its development and improve clinical interventions and practice.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Anyone interested in behavior, development, or the use of video for documentation or assessment.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to: (1) explain why variability and errors are critical components of behavioral development; (2) describe the importance of flexibility in behavior and how infants become more adaptive and creative with development; (3) apply the course information to clinical populations by analyzing patient actions, interventions, and functional outcomes in terms of variability, errors, and flexibility; and (4) discuss the power of video to capture changes in behavior that are difficult to observe or to analyze in the moment.
KAREN ADOLPH (New York University)
KAREN E. ADOLPH is Julius Silver Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Professor of Applied Psychology and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York University. She uses observable motor behaviors and a variety of technologies (video, motion tracking, instrumented floor, head-mounted eye tracking, EEG, etc.) to study developmental processes. Adolph directs the NIH-funded Databrary video library and PLAY project, and she maintains the Datavyu video-coding tool. She received her Ph.D. from Emory University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science and Past-President of the International Congress on Infant Studies. She received the Kurt Koffka Medal, Cattell Sabbatical Award, APF Fantz Memorial Award, APA Boyd McCandless Award, ICIS Young Investigator Award, FIRST and MERIT awards from NICHD, and five teaching awards from NYU. She chaired the NIH study section on Motor Function and Speech Rehabilitation and serves on the McDonnell Foundation advisory board and editorial boards of Current Directions in Psychological Science and Developmental Science. Adolph has published 210+ articles and chapters. Her research on perceptual-motor learning and development has been continually funded by NIH and NSF since 1991.



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