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Speaker List


Stephen Walker
Northern Illinois University

Welcome Address as MABA President

Timothy Vollmer
University of Florida 

Keynote Address

Knowing What We Do Not Know

Functional analysis as a form of behavioral assessment has been the foundation of behavioral treatment for over 40 years. We have learned a great deal about severe behavior during this time, and we continue to do so. However, there are significant gaps in our knowledge base about the occurrence of self-injury and aggression. Some of these gaps relate to pain, discomfort, and response to aversive stimulation (including reinforcer loss). Such variables will directly influence functional analysis outcomes, and they have important implications for designing treatments. For example, there are situations when treatments involving extinction could be unethical if the root cause of escape behavior is discomfort. Counterintuitively, even treatments that seem innocuous, such as environmental enrichment and differential reinforcement, could be dangerous if they disguise significant health-related variables. Dr. Vollmer will share recent and published data from his lab and will synthesize published research from his lab and others.


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Christina Alligood 
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Behavior Analysis as an Animal Care Tool in Zoos and Aquariums

In recent years, behavior has been recognized as an essential piece in the constellation of components critical to the care of animals housed in zoos and aquariums. The science of learning has many applications in these settings, and behavior analysts have contributed to the advancement of evidence-based practices particularly in the areas of husbandry training, environmental enrichment, and animal welfare. In this presentation, I will describe some examples of the role of behavior in multiple aspects of animal care. Along the way, I will highlight some key questions for the application of behavior analysis in zoological settings, some examples of work that addresses these questions, and some areas in need of further development.

Matthew Normand
University of the Pacific

Change Behavior, Change the World

All the major problems facing the world are problems of human behavior. The problems are caused and cured by what we do and what we do not do. As a result, meaningfully addressing these problems will require changing behavior, and this will require a robust basic and applied science of behavior analysis. It will also require disseminating this science so that it is put into practice where it is needed. I will identify several areas where behavior analysts are close to a tipping point of discovering and delivering important solutions. Behavior analysis holds great promise to improve the human condition, and our existing research and practice have provided many tools to serve important needs in the areas of child development, education, health, and aging. In most cases, we simply need to polish these tools and demonstrate their utility on a larger scale. In some of these cases, there also are obvious paths to practice that can lead applied behavior analysts into new careers. I will describe what I view as some areas primed for impact and suggest some ways to get them ready for delivery.


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Tara Fahmie
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Rethinking the Safety of Functional Analyses

Despite the clear benefits of conducting functional analyses of severe behavior, safety precautions may drive clinicians to seek alternative and less valid methods of assessment. In this presentation, I will review research relevant to the safety of functional analyses; provide an overview of practical strategies to improve safety based on this research; and discuss a few ongoing studies that may contribute to future improvements in safety.


Suzanne H. Mitchell
Oregon Health & Science University

Assessing Willingness to Exert Effort Using a Discounting Framework

Heightened preferences for small, immediate over larger, later rewards (delay discounting) have been associated with numerous psychopathologies including substance use disorders and ADHD, but a similar choice structure focused on cognitive effort is less studied; despite its possible association with grit and perseveration. That is, a propensity to select small rewards requiring less or negligible cognitive effort over larger rewards requiring more cognitive effort may be  associated with apathy, while the opposite decision making bias may be associated with success overcoming psychological obstacles like cravings during drug use cessation. Studies will be described in which we explored the relationship between delay discounting and cognitive effort discounting, including analyses of response times and eye tracking characteristics. One study also assessed whether cognitive effort discounting was related to individuals’ duration of smoking abstinence in a smoking restriction paradigm. Another study examined whether cognitive effort discounting differed between ADHD-diagnosed individuals and healthy controls. While this area of research is less developed than that of delay discounting, it appears to general unique insights into psychopathologies in which reinforcement processes are disrupted.

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Rick Bevins
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Understanding Primary Reinforcement is Just Not Enough to Explain the Misuse of Nicotine

Consumption of tobacco-containing products is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide. With the advent and increasing popularity of electronic nicotine delivery devices (e-cigarettes and vape), the advances in remediating this significant health issue are sliding backwards. We have known for nearly 50 years that the direct primary reinforcing effects of nicotine are, at best, weak and cannot fully explain the persistent use of nicotine or the high relapse rates following abstinence. Recognition of this explanatory gap by basic and clinical scientists has lead them to search for other potential factors that contribute to nicotine use and the development of dependence. In this presentation, we will highlight key discoveries in the quest to understand the determinants of nicotine use. For example, we will discuss how nicotine can amplify the reinforcing value of other environmental outcomes thus increasing its own consumption along with the consumption of these other outcomes. We will describe how nicotine has perceptible stimulus effects that can acquire control over behavior. In fact, an individual’s learning history with these interoceptive stimulus effects can increase the reinforcing value of nicotine in a way that magnifies its later consumption. Finally, we will summarize evidence supporting the need for investigators to consider sex as a biological factor as there can be profound differences between females and males.

Kathryn Kalafut
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Animal Welfare and Behavior Analysis

The term animal welfare can be tricky to define, but most would agree that an animal’s behavior is an important variable in determining their individual welfare. Collecting meaningful behavioral data in captive environments presents various challenges that often calls for unique solutions. Developing and implementing these unique solutions requires collaboration across individuals with diverse areas of expertise. This talk will explore the research on the relationship between behavior and animal welfare, the unique challenges in conducting behavioral research in captive animal environments, and the diverse expertise required to overcome these challenges. Various on-going research projects will be used to highlight these challenges and review potential solutions. The goals of these projects include, increasing water intake in domestic and exotic cats; measuring individual swimming behavior in 30 little blue penguins; and developing an apparatus for an Asian Elephant to indicate her preferences for environmental conditions.


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Claudia L. Dozier
University of Kansas 

Synchronous Schedules of Reinforcement: Recent Translational & Applied Research

Schedules of covariation are those in which changes in a specific response class (e.g., rate, intensity, or duration of behavior) produce corresponding changes in a reinforcer (e.g., rate, intensity, or duration; Williams & Johnston, 1992). Furthermore, these schedules involve the behavior and reinforcer fluctuating, or varying together. A synchronous reinforcement schedule is a type of schedule of covariation in which the onset and offset of the reinforcer covaries with the onset and offset of the behavior (Ramey, Heiger, & Klisz, 1972; Weisberg & Rovee-Collier, 1998). In the current presentation, I will first provide an overview of research on schedules of covariation, with a focus on synchronous reinforcement schedules. Next, I will discuss recent translational and applied research from my lab on the efficacy of and preference for synchronous reinforcement schedules. Specifically, I will discuss two translational studies comparing synchronous schedules to one in which reinforcer delivery occurred at the end of session. In addition, I will discuss two applied studies that employed synchronous schedules to increase appropriate behavior in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (i.e., exercising and wearing face coverings during the pandemic). Finally, I will conclude with suggestions for important areas for future research on synchronous reinforcement schedules.

Tyler Ré
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Closing Address as President-Elect


Student Presenters


Winner #1
We'll See...

2022 Forrest J. Files Award Winner

Title TBD

Winner #2
Anybody's Guess

2022 Forrest J. Files Award Winner

Title TBD


MABA 2022
St. Louis, MO

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