2019 Speaker List
Welcome Address as MABA President
A Critique of Psychopathological Perspectives of Common Child Behavior Problems
Interpreting common child behavior problems as evidence of psychopathology is routine in mainstream psychology. The practice is so widespread that when investigators fail to obtain clinically significant levels of behavior problems, as indexed by standard scores on assessment instruments, they usually (almost always) reanalyze their data in terms of raw scores and then argue that any statistically significant elevation is evidence of pathology. Four representative common child behavior problems are encopresis, enuresis, thumb sucking, and hair pulling and psychopathological interpretations of each are easy to find. Three of the most common tests of psychopathology are: 1) clinically significant levels of co-occurring behavior problems; 2) resistance to direct treatment; and 3) symptom substitution. An abundant amount of research shows that each of the four representative behavior problems fails all three tests. Two possible reasons for the existence and persistence of the psychopathology interpretation, despite readily available data to the contrary, are Berkson’s and Textbook case biases. Berkson’s bias involves the influence data obtained from hospitalized subjects with compound problems has on the interpretation of isolated problems in outpatient or nonreferred subjects. Textbook case bias involves textbook reliance on complex, resistant, multiproblem cases for teaching while the majority cases are simple, responsive, and involve relatively isolated problems
University of Florida
A New Frontier:
Integrating Digital and Behavioral Technology to Promote Health Behavior
Modifiable behavioral risk factors such as cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity contribute to over forty percent of premature deaths in the United States. Advances in digital and information technology are creating unprecedented opportunities for behavior analysts to assess and modify these risk factors. Technological advances include mobile devices, wearable sensors, biomarker detectors, and real-time access to therapeutic support via information technology. I will discuss recent research that has successful employed these technologies to promote a range of health behavior. Integrating these advances with behavioral technology in the form of conceptually systematic principles and procedures could usher in a new generation of effective and scalable behavioral interventions targeting health behavior.
Florence DiGennaro Reed
University of Kansas
Performance Management in ABA Service Settings
Performance management involves the application of behavioral principles to manage the performance of staff. Despite serving as effective change agents for clients, behavior analysts often struggle with motivating and supporting the staff they supervise. This presentation will describe evidence-based performance management procedures and share experimental data and case studies supporting the effectiveness of a behavior analytic approach to staff training and professional development. The presentation will emphasize resource-efficient efforts to produce behavior change of staff.
in St. Louis
Impulsivity, Impatience, and Risk-Taking: A Discounting Perspective
People discount the value of delayed or uncertain outcomes, and how steeply they discount is thought to reflect how impulsive they are. From this perspective, steep discounting of delayed outcomes (which fails to maximize long-term welfare) and shallow discounting of probabilistic outcomes (which fails to adequately take risk into account) reflect similar decision-making processes and also reflect the same unitary trait of impulsivity (or self-control). However, several manipulations differentially affect delay and probability discounting, and correlational studies show that how steeply one discounts delayed rewards is relatively independent of how steeply one discounts probabilistic rewards. Thus, calling them both ‘impulsivity’ may serve only to indicate that they both can cause people real problems. People reportedly discount delayed rewards on a time scale of weeks or months rather than seconds as in animals, but when choices involve real, consumable rewards, people are as impatient as animals. Interestingly, discounting of real, consumable rewards on a small time scale and discounting hypothetical money on a large time scale are uncorrelated. To complicate things further, the discounting of gains is separate from the discounting of losses. Taken together, these findings argue that there are multiple ‘impulsivities’, each of which is important for understanding different aspects of decision-making.
Claire St. Peter
West Virginia University
How Low Can You Go?:
Naturalistic Treatment Integrity and Its Impact on Outcomes
The term treatment integrity refers to the extent to which interventions are implemented as they are designed. For over 20 years, there have been calls for increased reporting of treatment integrity in research and consideration of treatment integrity in clinical practice. Yet, treatment integrity remains an infrequent research topic and rare practice consideration. In this presentation, I describe several studies evaluating naturalistic levels of treatment integrity across several procedures and relate those data to the likely impact that reduced integrity had on treatment outcomes for clients. I hope to convince the audience that evaluations of treatment integrity are critical for research and practice if we hope to create sustainable change in socially significant behavior.
University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Munroe-Meyer Institute
Using Quantitative Theories of Relapse to Improve Functional Communication Training
Functional communication training (FCT) has strong empirical support for its use when treating socially reinforced problem behavior. However, treatment effects often deteriorate when FCT procedures are challenged, leading to the recurrence of problem behavior, decreased use of the functional communication response (FCR), or both (Mace et al., 2010; Volkert, Lerman, Call, & Trosclair-Lasserre, 2009; Wacker et al., 2011). Researchers have accordingly described a number of strategies to improve the efficacy of differential-reinforcement procedures (e.g., FCT) when challenged. For example, Wacker et al. (2011) assessed the maintenance of FCT-treatment effects by periodically exposing the FCR to periods of extinction and found that additional exposure to FCT helped guard against the disruptive impact of later periods of extinction. Basic researchers have described similar modifications to FCT procedures based on behavioral momentum theory (BMT) and resurgence as choice (RaC) theory that also should help mitigate treatment relapse. Our research team has recently begun investigating these and other modifications to FCT. In this presentation, I will share preliminary results and describe our ongoing work in this area.
Modeling and Mitigating Relapse of Problem Behavior
Persistent problem behavior with a propensity to relapse poses challenges to behavioral practitioners to develop more effective and durable treatments. Designing better treatments is difficult because a wide range of events contribute to behavioral persistence and relapse. Translational research offers a wide range of tools for isolating the processes involved in recurrent problem behavior and exploiting those processes when developing treatments. Basic research geared toward understanding problems of practical significance offers well-controlled conditions from which to assess systematically and thoroughly the learning and behavioral processes underlying treatment failures and successes. I will discuss how my colleagues and I have used basic research to understand the processes involved in the challenges of treating clinically relevant behavior. Finally, I will present examples of how we employed an approach based in our translational work with clinically relevant behavior.
Idaho State University
Food Insecurity, Mindful Eating, and Delay Discounting for Food and Money
Food insecurity (FI) refers to inconsistent access and budget for foods that meet basic nutritional needs. Women from food insecure households are more likely to be obese than women from food secure households. Delay discounting, or a preference for smaller, sooner (impulsive choice) over larger, delayed (self-controlled) outcomes has been shown to be a process involves in obesity. Recently, we have examined delay discounting processes for food and money with food insecure women and have found that in addition to food insecure women having higher rates of obesity, they are more impulsive for food and money than food secure women. This holds even when obesity status is controlled statistically. Mindful eating, an easy-to-learn behavioral practice, has been shown to reduce delay discounting for food, but not money discounting. We will present data on a study that shows its effectiveness with food insecure women.
University of South Florida
BST Is Not as Good as You Think:
Lessons Learned from Research on Teaching Safety Skills
This presentation will discuss research conducted by the author since the late 1980s on teaching safety skills, including abduction prevention, sexual abuse prevention, and firearm injury prevention, to children and individuals with disabilities. After a brief review of assessment issues, the presentation will discuss major findings from this research - what works and what doesn’t, accessibility of interventions, implementation fidelity, and issues of generalization and maintenance. A major theme of the presentation will focus on the limits of behavioral skills training and how to make BST more effective.
University of Nebraska Lincoln
Characterizing the Value Enhancing Effects of Nicotine via Behavioral Economics
Nicotine produces reinforcement-enhancing effects on the value of sensory and appetitive reinforcers, and this may extend to alcohol reinforcement. Additionally, many effective smoking cessation pharmacotherapeutics have also been demonstrated to produce enhancement effects comparable to those of nicotine, which may partially account for their efficacy in treatment. We conducted series of behavioral economic investigations of the role of the reinforcement-enhancing effects of nicotine in facilitating alcohol self-administration using reinforcer demand methods. In separate studies, the effects of nicotine dose, biological sex, reinforcer quality, and administration of smoking cessation pharmacotherapeutics were evaluated.
In each of these studies, male and female Wistar rats were trained to self-administer alcohol using a brief sucrose-fading procedure. Subsequently, lever-pressing was maintained ethanol solution in brief self-administration sessions. Over blocks of several sessions, the response requirement per ethanol-dipper presentation was systematically increased, during which injections of saline or nicotine were administered within each cost-condition. Ethanol consumption as a function of the response-cost to obtain ethanol was analyzed using reinforcer demand modelling, and the effects of biological sex and drug administration to alter these demand functions was evaluated. Together, these studies indicate the nicotine enhances the reinforcement value of alcohol by decreasing the effect of increasing response-cost to constrain alcohol self-administration.
Western Michigan University
Closing Address as MABA President Elect
Presentations will each be 45-60 minutes in length, and will run the full day Friday, October 18th and until early-afternoon on Saturday, October 19th.