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Assessing Play Interests in Toddlers.

Description: Play is a significant part of childhood. Typically developing children exhibit a wide range of interests within their play behavior, but children with autism do not. The purpose of this study was to design and implement an assessment tool that will capture the constellation of behaviors indicating play interests in young children. The Early Play Interests Assessment (EPIA) includes categories of play behavior and their components behaviors. Additionally, measures of child affect were built into the EPIA. All behaviors were observed under various environmental conditions. The results show that the EPIA was useful in observing toddlers' play behavior within behavioral categories and components and in assessing the interactions among these measures of play interests. The results are discussed in relation to the importance of creating observational systems to quantify play interests in typical and atypical children and for establishing a link between the information gathered in assessment and the planning and implementation of autism interventions.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Kodaka, Mitsuru

Assessing the Stimulus Control of Observers.

Description: The science of behavior analysis relies heavily on direct observation. Human observers are typically used to measure behavior in applied settings. Although the use of human observers is beneficial in many regards, it also presents challenges. Of primary concern is the extent to which the data generated by observers actually corresponds to the behavioral events of interest, and the implications this may have in terms of replication. This study assessed the effects that labels, definitions, and examples and non-examples of two different modalities had on observer accuracy, consistency, and agreement. Results showed that current practices in observer training may require refinement to ensure high observer accuracy, consistency, and agreement. Suggestions for how to improve the desired stimulus control of observers are provided.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Kuhn, Robin Merritt

Assessment and Treatment of Multiple Topographies and Functions of Self-injury

Description: Results of a functional analysis indicated that the self-injurious behavior (SIB) of an adult female with profound mental retardation occurred primarily in the alone and demand conditions. Graphs of the separate topographies (head slaps and head bangs) showed that head banging occurred in the alone condition and that both head banging and head slapping occurred in the demand condition. A data analysis procedure to identify within-session trends across sessions and fluctuations in rates of SIB by topography revealed that most of the demands escaped were escaped by head slaps and that over 80% of all head slaps were associated with escape, compared to less than 1%of all head bangs, indicating that head banging and head slapping were members of separate functional response classes. Treatment consisted of noncontingent availability of preferred leisure materials, and produced substantial decreases of both head banging and head slapping. Interpretation of the results are discussed, as well as some implications and limitations of the study.
Date: December 1998
Creator: Gonzalez, Angela M. (Angela Maria), 1970-

Assessment and Treatment of Multiple Topographies of Self-injury Maintained by Separate Reinforcement Contingencies

Description: Functional analysis procedures were used to assess and treat multiple topographies of self-injurious behavior exhibited by an individual. An experimental functional analysis indicated that one topography, hand biting, appeared to be maintained by social positive reinforcement in the form of delivery of tangible items. The analysis also provided evidence that a second form of self-injury, skin picking, was automatically reinforced. To treat positively reinforced hand biting, access to a preferred tangible was arranged contingent on the omission of biting for a prespecified time interval. Hand biting was nearly eliminated, and low rates were maintained as the schedule of reinforcement was thinned to 10 min. Competing stimulus assessments identified that magazines effectively suppressed all occurrences of skin picking; therefore, noncontingent access to magazines was implemented. Using a combination of multielement and multiple baseline designs, we were able to demonstrate that the two topographies of self-injury were maintained by independent reinforcement contingencies and that interventions corresponding to each topography and function effectively treated both behaviors.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Pace, Amy

Assessment and Treatment of Object Mouthing in the Classroom

Description: The object mouthing of a developmentally delayed 8-year-old girl was assessed and treated in a classroom setting. Two pretreatment assessments were conducted: A functional analysis indicated that object mouthing occurred across test conditions and persisted in the absence of social contingencies, and assessment of stimulus preference identified reinforcers to be used during treatments. Based on assessment outcomes, two treatments were implemented. Noncontingent sensory reinforcement was implemented during free-time and group activities, resulting in a 74.3% decrease in object mouthing across three settings. During one-on-one educational activities, presentation of academic task-trials at a high rate decreased object mouthing by 85.7%, relative to a condition in which tasks were presented at a slower rate.
Date: August 1997
Creator: Naftolin, Stacie (Stacie A.)

Assessment of Resident and Staff Activity in a State Residential Setting

Description: Previous studies have demonstrated the use of momentary time-sampling methods for the objective measurement of naturally occurring events (Zarcone, Iwata, Rodgers & Vollmer, 1993; Shore, Lerman, Smith, Iwata & DeLeon, 1995). These studies have provided information about observed levels and characteristics of direct care services, supervision, resident activity and facility conditions. The present study evaluated the utility of these assessment procedures in a residential facility for developmentally delayed adults. The procedure was further evaluated for sensitivity to changes relative to an intervention designed to increase staff and client interaction. A multiple baseline design was used to assess a data collection procedure in the context of intervention in four residences on a state facility campus. Intervention included the use of scheduling, modeling and performance feedback. Results indicate an overall increase of staff and client interaction and demonstrate the utility of the assessment procedure for the evaluation of multiple, on-going activities as well as intervention effects.
Date: December 2003
Creator: Galletta, Katharine Lena

An Attempt to Dissociate Effects of Response Requirements and Sample Duration in Conditional Discrimination Learning with Pigeons.

Description: Attempts to control various aspects of response requirements and sample viewing durations of sample stimuli show that an increase in both facilitates acquisition of conditional discriminations. Despite these attempts, few empirical data exist that demonstrate the relative contributions of both response- and time-dependent schedules. In addition, viewing opportunities of sample stimuli are present outside of the researchers' control, allowing for 'unauthorized sample viewing.' This study employed a titrating delay matching-to-sample procedure to systematically control various aspects of response requirements and sample viewing durations to independently assess their relative contributions towards conditional discrimination performance. Four pigeons worked on a titrating delay matching-to-sample procedure in which the delay between sample offset and comparison onset continuously adjusted as a function of the accuracy of the pigeons' choices. Results show sample viewing durations contribute most toward conditional discrimination performance. The data show 'unauthorized sample viewing' improved acquisition of conditional discriminations and should be a consideration in design of future research.
Date: May 2009
Creator: Levine, Joshua

A Behavioral Economic Analysis of Different Reinforcers: Sound-Clips Versus Points Exchangeable for Money

Description: Human operant studies frequently use points exchangeable for money as reinforcers. Some studies employ more immediately consumable reinforcers to emulate properties of food reinforcers. This study examined demand for points/money and for sound-clips to compare their economic characteristics. Across four participants, demand was often higher and less elastic for points/money than for sounds. During subsequent exposures at each response requirement, demand for sounds often decreased to a greater degree than demand for points/money. Thus, sound-clips seem less durable than points/money across prices and across repeated exposure to the same price. Response rates for points/money were often higher than for sounds, suggesting that reinforcers that generate higher response rates may be less elastic than reinforcers that generate lower response rates.
Date: December 2000
Creator: Alvey, Debi A.

A Behavioral Economic Analysis of the Demand for Money in Humans

Description: This study investigated the effects of unit price structure, unit price descriptions, and unit price sequence on the demand for money in humans. Six groups of 3 participants solved multiplication problems in exchange for money under various unit prices. Consumption of money decreased as the unit price increased across all conditions. However, the data also showed that: (a) fixed price structures produced slightly more elastic demand than did variable price structures, (b) price descriptions produced more elastic demand under variable price structures but had little or no effect under fixed price structures, and (c) the alternate sequence used with fixed price structures produced slightly more elastic demand.
Date: December 2000
Creator: Reyes, Jorge R.

A Behavioral Economic Analysis of the Effects of Unit Price Sequence on Demand for Money in Humans.

Description: Three groups of participants were exposed to different unit price sequences. Unit prices for all groups ranged from unit price 1 to 21. Analyses of demand curves, response rates, session duration, and elasticity coefficients suggest that the sequence of exposure to unit prices can affect the elasticity of demand. In addition, the size of unit price contrast, direction of unit price change, and proximity to experimental milestones also may affect the consumption of monetary reinforcers.
Date: May 2002
Creator: Williams, Jack Keith

The Behavioral Economics of Effort

Description: Although response effort is considered a dimension of the cost to obtain reinforcement, little research has examined the economic impact of effort on demand for food. The goal of the present study was to explore the relationship between effort and demand. Three Sprague Dawley rats were trained to press a force transducer under a series of fixed-ratio schedules (1, 10, 18, 32, 56, 100, 180, 320, and 560) under different force requirements (5.6 g and 56 g). Thus, nominal unit price (responses / food) remained constant while minimal response force requirements varied. Using a force transducer allowed the measurement of responses failing to meet the minimal force requirement (i.e. “subcriterion responses”), an advantage over prior approaches using weighted levers to manipulate effort. Consistent with prior research, increasing the unit price decreased food consumption, and raising minimum force requirements further reduced demand for food. Additionally, increasing the force requirement produced subcriterion responses. Analysis indicated that subcriterion responses did not create incidental changes in unit price. Obtained force data revealed that including obtained forces in unit price calculations provided better predictions of consumption when compared to using criterion force requirements.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Nord, Christina M.

A Behaviorally Planned Community of Practice: A Description and Evaluation of one Area of Staff Development

Description: Staff training packages combining instructions, modeling, practice, and feedback have been shown to be effective in demonstrating skills to work in early intensive behavioral intervention, but maintenance and generalization of the skills trained are often not addressed. Establishing a community of practice, in which staff members continue to learn and develop new skill sets from one another through shared experiences and information, may lead to the endurance and maintenance of desired staff behavior over time. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate the effects of a behaviorally designed community of practice on staff use of socially embedded consequences. The effects of the training procedure were evaluated using a concurrent multiple baseline design across two sites (7 staff members). The results suggest that the behaviorally planned community of practice was effective in reinforcing and maintaining staff use of socially embedded consequences for at least 5 to 9 weeks. Additionally, the number of learning opportunities provided by the staff and social engagement between staff and child increased.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Ferguson, Julia L

Breaking Accidental Behavior Chains.

Description: Accidental behavior chains are a common problem in dog training. Many handlers inadvertently reinforce undesirable behaviors. The behavior analytic literature already contains articles describing methods of breaking chains; however, those methods either are not used in dog training for practical purposes or are ineffective in dog training. This experiment investigated two ways to break a behavior chain, including extending the chain and introducing a delay into the chain. The results of extending the chain showed that it is possible to decrease the target behavior using this method, but it was not eliminated in this study. Adding a delay into the behavior chain resulted in a quick elimination of the target behavior.
Date: May 2010
Creator: McKnight, Debra Gayle

Caffeine’s Effects on Pausing During Alternating Work Requirements

Description: There is a significant body of literature stating that caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, yet its effects on operant behavior are little understood. Some of the current research on caffeine suggests that it may play a role in altering motivational states related to transitions between previous and upcoming work requirements. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of caffeine on postreinforcement pausing during transitions between small and large fixed ratio rudiments. Eight rats were exposed to five doses of caffeine and and a two-component multiple schedule. We found that caffeine does systematically alter the length of pausing during transitions between fixed ratio requirements, however the magnitude of the effect may be dependent on the baseline rate of responding.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Libman, Benjamin M.

Can Analyzing Infant Imitation in the Natural Environment Inform Interventions in Autism?

Description: A longitudinal study of infants and their mothers was conducted to explore the development of imitation and approximations to imitation. During a 10-minute unstructured play session, researchers observed two mother-infant dyads once per week for twelve weeks, while they played at home. The data presented represents infants between the ages 5 and 34 weeks. The methodology employed was based on the methods described by Hart and Rilsey (1999). Observations were coded based on the topography of the mother's and infant's behavior and included vocalizations, facial movements, motor movements, and object manipulation. The data are analyzed and discussed in terms of its relevance to autism intervention.
Date: May 2009
Creator: Waltenburg, Carley

Can Longitudinal Observations of Infant Joint Attention Inform Infant Interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Description: Infants 5-34 weeks of age were observed in their homes playing with their mothers as part of a longitudinal study. Two mother-infant dyads were observed once per week for twelve weeks, during a ten-minute play session. The purpose of the observation system is to describe contingencies leading to the development of attention-seeking behaviors in typically developing infants. Observations were coded using a type-based format (person engagement, object engagement, supported joint engagement, coordinated joint engagement, and unengaged). Child eye gaze, reaching, and grabbing were coded as well as all child and adult vocalizations. It is suggested that the data from the observation system will help inform and assess the effectiveness of infant and toddler social interventions in autism spectrum disorders and advance our understanding of attention seeking behaviors.
Date: May 2009
Creator: Suchomel, Nicole G.

Can Observing Behavior Predict Performance in Conditional Discriminations?

Description: Prompts are implemented often in training procedures, to include conditional discriminations, and this can lead to prompt dependency. The current study extends a prior study that suggested that the effectiveness of supplementary visual stimuli displaying the sample and comparison was dependent on the timing in relation to the selection task, presented as a prompt or feedback, in a match-to-sample procedure. The current research examines if the differences in that effectiveness were due to differences in observing behavior in those two conditions. Measures of observing behavior were determined by making access to the individual visual stimuli contingent on clicking on the visual stimulus and keeping the cursor located on the stimulus. Participants viewed the sample comparison much less than the comparison stimulus in both the prompt and feedback conditions. Latency to select the comparison stimulus was much shorter for the prompt condition suggesting that the participants might have interacted differently with the selection task in the two conditions.
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Date: December 2016
Creator: Marchini, Kevin Julian

Can Positive Reinforcement Overcome Fear? An Investigation of Competing Contingencies

Description: Escape maintained behavior in dogs is generally displayed by one of two behaviors-fleeing or aggression. Once aggression is negatively reinforced by the removal of the aversive stimulus, it is very difficult to eliminate from the organism's repertoire. Counterconditioning is the process of pairing a positive reinforcer with an aversive stimulus in the attempts that an organism will no longer exhibit fear responses in its presence. This process must be done gradually with small approximations. Many organisms have been trained to tolerate the presence of aversive stimuli via counterconditioning. However, this process can be time consuming and has inconsistent results. The purpose of this experiment was to monitor the effects of counter conditioning around an aversive stimulus while simultaneously training an identical behavior in the presence of a neutral stimulus. The results demonstrated that even though counterconditioning produced approach to the aversive stimulus the subject still exhibited numerous fear responses when results were compared to the control condition.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Kunkel, Rebecca Ann

The Captive Animal Activity Tracking System: A Systematic Method for the Continuous Evaluation of Captive Animal Welfare.

Description: Optimal animal welfare has been a long-term goal for captive animal institutions. To measure welfare a definition and identification of elements that make up welfare need to be established. Further, a method to measure welfare's elements that can be implemented into staff's daily routine is necessary to establish baseline levels and track changes in welfare. The goal of the proposed captive animal activity tracking system is to allow for the measurement of each element of welfare quickly, while providing information regarding the animal's current state of welfare and how changes to the animal's environment affect welfare. The data show that this system is effective in revealing behavioral patterns and changes in behavior that occurred in response to environmental changes.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Kalafut, Kathryn Lynn

Choices in Reinforcer Delivery

Description: The current study consisted of two experiments, both of which were comparisons of choice conditions replicated across four participants. Four typically-developing pre-school children participated in this study. Experiment 1 evaluated participants' preference for choosing consequent stimuli prior to engaging in academic tasks (pre-session choice) versus choosing consequent stimuli each time criterion for reinforcement had been met within the session (within-session choice). In Experiment 2, preference for choice-making was evaluated when outcomes for both choice and no-choice conditions were identical. For two participants, results indicated strong preference for choice-making.
Date: August 2008
Creator: Law, Sarah Ann

Clarifying Variables associated with Problem Behaviors Using Structured Descriptive Assessment

Description: This study evaluated the utility of a structured descriptive assessment (SDA) as an alternative method of functional assessment. Initially, an analogue functional analysis, conducted to assess the problem behavior of two adults with developmental disabilities, produced inconclusive results. Subsequently, SDAs was conducted in the individuals' natural environment with the direct-contact caregivers acting as therapists. This assessment manipulated antecedent variables similarly to the analogue functional analysis but allowed for consequences to occur naturally. The results from SDAs suggested that problem behaviors, for both participants, were occasioned by removal of personal items and maintained by their return. Treatments based on the results of SDAs were implemented in a reversal design and resulted in a notable reduction in the occurrences of problem behavior for both participants. These outcomes suggest that SDA procedures may be useful when results from the analogue functional analysis are inconclusive.
Date: August 2005
Creator: McAllister, Amanda Jo

A Clinical Case Study of Rumination and Emesis in an Adult Male with Intellectual Disability

Description: An evaluation of a series of interventions was conducted for an individual who engaged in life-threatening rumination and emesis. There is substantial research indicating that the delivery of peanut butter (Barton & Barton, 1985; Greene, Johnston, Rossi, Racal, Winston, & Barron, 1991) and/or chopped bread following meals (Thibadeau, Blew, Reedy, & Luiselli, 1999), chewing gum (Rhine & Tarbox, 2009), and satiation procedures (Dudley, Johnston, & Barnes, 2002; Lyons, Rue, Luiselli, & DiGennario, 2007; Rast, Johnston, Drum, & Conrin, 1981) can be effective treatments for rumination. In the current case, each of these interventions was found to be either ineffective or contraindicated based on the participant's fragile health status. Previous literature has shown that liquid delivery can affect rates of rumination in some clients (Barton & Barton, 1985,; Heering, Wilder, & Ladd, 2003). We examined how liquid affected the rate of rumination during and after meals. Based on the individual's medical condition, oral nutrition and fluids were discontinued indefinitely and a gastronomy-jejunostomy tube was used for nutrition. All rumination ceased when fluids and nutrition were delivered via the jejunostomy tube. Finally, a fluid analysis procedure was implemented in which the participant received small amounts of fluid while NPO. Color and flavor were manipulated systematically, and results suggested that flavor impacted the rate of rumination.
Date: May 2016
Creator: DeLapp, Christina Marie

Comparing a discriminative stimulus procedure to a pairing procedure: Conditioning neutral social stimuli to function as conditioned reinforcers.

Description: Social stimuli that function as reinforcers for most children generally do not function as reinforcers for children diagnosed with autism. These important social stimuli include smiles, head nods, thumb-ups, and okay signs. It should be an important goal of therapy for children with autism to condition these neutral social stimuli to function as reinforcers for children diagnosed with autism. There is empirical evidence to support both a pairing procedure (classical conditioning) and a discriminative stimulus procedure to condition neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers. However, there is no clear evidence as to the superiority of effectiveness for either procedure. Despite this most textbooks and curriculum guides for children with autism state only the pairing procedure to condition neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers. Recent studies suggest that the discriminative stimulus procedure may in fact be more effective in conditioning neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers for children diagnosed with autism. The present research is a further comparison of these two procedures. Results from one participant support recent findings that suggest the discriminative stimulus procedure is more effective in conditioning neutral stimuli to function as reinforcers. But the results from the other participant show no effects from either procedure, suggesting future research into conditions necessary to condition neutral social stimuli to function as reinforcers for children with autism.
Date: December 2009
Creator: Koelker, Rachel Lee

Comparing Indices of Happiness during Teaching Interactions

Description: The measurement of happiness has received increasing attention in behavior analytic literature. Happiness in individuals with developmental disabilities has been assessed by 1) counting a specific behavior, or 2) sampling constellations of behaviors. The purpose of this study was to examine the two approaches while observing nine child and teacher dyads at an autism treatment center. Results showed that, overall, a constellation of behaviors can yield similar patterns when compared to a specific behavior count. However, the affect of one person did not predict the affect of the other and similar instructional conditions did not predict affect either. The implications of these results and future directions are discussed.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Anderson, Claire Therese