Affiliation: Université de Montréal and Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal
Artificial intelligence in behavior analysis: How I stopped fearing Skynet and started worshipping magical bunnies
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are currently revolutionizing how we work and interact. However, catchy headlines often lead to misconceptions about what they can and cannot do. These misconceptions may partly explain why behavior analysts have been slow to adopt them despite their promising nature. This presentation aims to dispel common myths about artificial intelligence and machine learning while discussing potential applications to behavior analytic problems. First, the presenter will describe and define artificial intelligence and machine learning. Then, the talk will cover common myths about their application. Finally, recent applications in behavior analysis will be discussed with an emphasis on practice. Overall, the presentation should provide a balanced overview of what artificial intelligence and machine learning can potentially do (and not do) to support both practitioners and researchers in behavior analysis.
Interactive web training to support caregivers of children with developmental disability
Caregivers of children with developmental disability may face multiple barriers to access support such as lengthy waiting lists, high cost of private services, geographic isolation, and limited availability. One solution to overcome these barriers is to offer self-guided interactive web trainings to support them in caring for their child.
To examine this solution, our research team conducted a series of four studies measuring the effects of interactive web training on caregivers and their children with developmental disability. The second study indicated that an interactive web training increased parental prompting while decreasing stereotypy in children with autism. The last two studies involved randomized controlled trials revealing that the parent trainings led to collateral reductions in challenging behavior in children with autism and other developmental disability. Overall, the results suggest that interactive web training may serve as a tool to support parents of children with developmental disability in managing behavior.
Get to Know Marc Lanovaz
Marc J. Lanovaz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is a Professor at the École de psychoéducation of the Université de Montréal and Researcher at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal in Canada. The work in his lab has been funded by several major granting agencies such as the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and Québec’s Research Funds. His research program currently involves the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and technology to improve the delivery of behavior analytic services. Dr. Lanovaz has authored more than eighty publications on diverse topics such as clinical decision-making, parent training and challenging behavior in individuals with developmental disability.
Experimental Analysis of Behaviour: Somethings I have learned about reinforcers and stimulus control
The experimental analysis of behaviour is a science of behaviour that is built on a rich research tradition that focusses on the deliberate and detailed observation of variables that control behaviour. The emphasis has always been on the observation of individuals and descriptions of behaviour that facilitate prediction and control. At the heart of these explanations is an appreciation of what some would call the three-term contingency: Antecedents – Behaviour - Consequences – the ABCs. My talk will focus on two of these – Antecedents and Consequences. Stimulus control is an area of study that focusses on antecedents – where antecedents might also include context, or the setting conditions as well as the study of stimuli that are deliberately associated with reinforcer delivery. Reinforcer control as an area of study focusses on the control exerted on behaviour by consequences, and draws on a diverse range of ideas and traditions such as Michael’s motivating operations, Timberlake’s Behaviour Systems, Premack’s Principles – and so much more. This talk will draw together research findings from research with human and non-human animals and explore their relevance and translation to applied settings.
Get to Know Lewis Bizo
Lewis Bizo completed his Ph.D. at the University of Otago in 1994 before working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University, and has subsequently worked in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand as an academic. He is Deputy Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney. Lewis’ research interests are many and varied. He publishes regularly on stimulus control and generalisation, schedules of reinforcement and reinforcer preference.
The Art of Communicating Effectively about Science
Communicating technical knowledge to non-technical audiences is a challenge and a skill that takes practice. Even the best evidence-based recommendations can be unhelpful if your target audience isn’t able to understand them or doesn’t see their relevance. An experienced science communicator, Associate Professor Jen Martin will share advice on how to effectively communicate technical information to diverse audiences. In particular, she’ll discuss to how to plan, design and deliver a presentation that will hook your audience’s attention and make your recommendations relevant, engaging and accessible to different audiences. She’ll share questions that you should ask yourself every time you prepare to speak with an audience and consider the most effective ways to deal with the nerves associated with public speaking. Finally, she’ll discuss the differences between speaking to an in-person audience and presenting in an online setting.
Get to Know Jennifer Martin
Associate Professor Jen Martin (@scidocmartin) spent many years working as a field ecologist until she decided the most useful thing she could contribute as a scientist was to teach other scientists how to be effective and engaging communicators. Jen founded and leads the University of Melbourne's acclaimed Science Communication Teaching Program and is deeply committed to helping scientists develop the skills they need to be communicate with different audiences and have impact. She also practises what she preaches: for more than 15 years she’s been talking about science each week on 3RRR radio, she writes for a variety of publications, hosts podcasts and MCs events. Jen was named the 2019 Unsung Hero of Australian Science Communication and is Ambassador for The Wilderness Society’s Nature Book Week. Jen’s first popular science book, ‘Why am I like this? The science behind your weirdest thoughts and habits’ will be published in 2022.
Equitation Science and the 5-4-3-2-1 Framework for Ethical Animal Training
Established traditional equestrian techniques bypassed the findings of modern learning theorists. Meanwhile, many observers now question the welfare of ridden horses since most are trained using negative reinforcement and pressure-based cues. The relatively new discipline of equitation science combines learning theory, ethology and physics to examine the salience and efficacy of horse-training techniques. It is removing emotiveness from the horse-riding welfare debate because it permits consideration and, in some cases, assessment of equine discomfort, pain and learned helplessness. Equitation science acknowledges the complex nature of horse-animal interactions and embraces the dynamic interconnection of five constructs that characterise safe, ethical and sustainable [best] practices in the management, handling and training of all non-production animal species. The novel 5-4-3-2-1 framework for ethical animal training interdigitates the 2020 Five Domains Model for animal welfare assessment, four over-arching training modalities, the three influences of arousal, affective state and attachment, and the two contrasting ethologies (human and animal), with a One Welfare approach that considers impacts of interventions on animals, humans and the environment. It reveals that, while arousal and affective state influence behavioural outcomes of operant conditioning, the trainer’s application of the operant quadrants have a cumulative influence on attachment, arousal and affective state.
Get to Know Paul McGreevy
Paul McGreevy BVSc, PhD, FRCVS is a veterinarian and ethologist. He is the author of over 300 peer-reviewed scientific publications and seven books. With expertise in learning theory, animal training, animal welfare science, veterinary behavioural medicine and anthrozoology, he is a co-founder and honorary fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science. He led the VetCompass Australia initiative that brought together all of the Australian veterinary schools to provide ongoing national disease surveillance for companion animals and horses. With the additional involvement of Massey University (NZ), the same schools collaborated under Paul’s leadership to create the One Welfare teaching portal.
Training, Enrichment, and Training as Enrichment: A Historical, Pragmatic Approach to Applied Behavior Analysis with Animals
Animal training and environmental enrichment are both important advancements associated with current behavioral welfare practices. While animal training and its connection to reinforcement is clear, less known is how the field of enrichment began as a form of ‘behavioral engineering’, and thus, just as reliant on operant conditioning procedures. Additionally, how we define enrichment in terms of contingencies, the concept of training as a form of enrichment, and how we measure enriching effects are all equally important. This paper examines the concepts of training and enrichment as behavior analytic endeavors in three parts: (1) the history of modern training and enrichment practices, (2) the concept of training to enrich animal lives, and (3) the ways we can measure our training and enrichment successes. Within each category, I discuss the research and publication literature relevant to each area, as well as the ways behavior analysis has been, is, or could be involved to promote better applied animal behavior practices. In short, my main goal is to provide audience members with a general synopsis of how applied behavior analysis is done with animals.
Get to Know Eduardo Fernandez
Eduardo J. Fernandez is a Senior Lecturer of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare in the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Adelaide (Australia). He received his Ph.D. in Psychology (minors in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior) from Indiana University, where he worked with the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Zoo. He received his M.S. in Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas, where he founded the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals (ORCA). Most of his past and current work involves behavioral research applied to the welfare and training of zoo, aquarium, and companion animals. His past positions include a Visiting Professorship in the School of Behavior Analysis at the Florida Institute of Technology, an Affiliate Professorship with the Psychology Department at Trinity Lutheran College, an Affiliate Assistant Professorship in the Psychology Department at the University of Washington, a Research Fellowship with Woodland Park Zoo, and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. While working with UW and the Woodland Park Zoo, he started the Behavioral Enrichment Animal Research (BEAR) group, which conducted welfare research with many of the species and exhibits located throughout the zoo. He currently runs the Operant Welfare Lab (OWL), which is dedicated to the use of learning principles to improve the lives of animals across many settings, including exotic animals in zoos, companion animals in homes and shelters, and agricultural animals in farms. Many of his past publications, research projects, and presentations can be found on his ResearchGate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eduardo_Fernandez18
Supporting clients and families in disputes with the NDIA: Challenges for ABA therapy providers
The number of applications in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s NDIS Division (Tribunal) has increased significantly in recent months.
It is likely that clients of ABA therapy providers will at some stage have to go through the dispute resolution process with the NDIA, including commencing proceedings in the Tribunal. Those clients are likely to seek support from the ABA therapy provider throughout that dispute resolution process, for example, requesting that reports or letters of support be prepared for the purpose of Tribunal proceedings. This can give rise to difficult ethical issues for practitioners. It also requires practitioners to address a possible perception of a conflict of interest, because therapy providers stand to benefit from the NDIA agreeing to fund a client’s ABA therapy.
Similarly, there are challenges for the wider ABA profession, particularly if practitioners or experts in ABA are asked to provide independent expert reports for the purpose of Tribunal proceedings. Some ABA practitioners have a desire to communicate their knowledge in order to support parents generally, and also advocate for ABA as a mode of therapy and for the profession generally, but this might be seen by the NDIA or the Tribunal as compromising a practitioner’s independence.
This presentation will discuss recent Tribunal decisions concerning ABA,
and will outline ethical and practical issues concerning both the
provision of evidence by therapy providers, as well as independent
expert evidence provided by ABA practitioners.
Get to Know Matthew Cobb-Clark
Matthew Cobb-Clark has been a barrister at the NSW Bar since 2018. He practices in a number of areas of law, in particular administrative law. He has appeared in, and provided advice in relation to, a number of cases concerning the NDIS. He blogs about Administrative Appeal Tribunal decisions concerning the NDIS. He is also a member of the NSW Bar Association’s Accessibility Panel, which focuses on improving accessibility to the law for people with disability.
Matthew completed his Masters degree at City University of London in 2018. His dissertation, which won the Edward Elgar Prize for best dissertation, compared approaches to resolution of disputes concerning special education in England and New South Wales.
Why an expanded ecological model is needed to improve One Welfare
Applied behaviour analysis and training are tools to improve animal
welfare. When training and evaluating welfare, the focus is typically on
an individual animal. While we do need to focus on the individual, we
also need a wider viewpoint. This is because learning in animals is part
of an ecological model. Thus, each animal has their own motivational
structure, ecology, and perceptual capacities. Some are common across
the same species, e.g. dogs can hear high frequency sounds. Others are
specific to an individual, e.g. a dog not socialised adequately shows
fear responses to a wide range of noises. I argue the need to expand
this ecological model and use Bronfenbrenner’s model of child
development as an example. This fits within a One Welfare model, where
animal and human welfare and the environment are inextricably linked.
For a dog, each factor (e.g. local parks for dog walking or their
guardian working 12hours/day) interacts and affects their development
and welfare. In turn, a guardian may experience significant burden of
care if their dog has behavioural problems. Failure to use an expanded
ecological model will mean we fall short in our goals of optimising
welfare for animals, humans and the environment.
Get to Know Susan Hazel
Susan Hazel is a veterinarian and Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour, Welfare and Ethics in the School of Animal & Veterinary Sciences at the University of Adelaide. She is Program Coordinator for a BSc (Animal Behaviour) which attracts international students, on the Dog & Cat Management Board of South Australia (SA), RSPCA SA, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee of SA and Animal Therapies Ltd, a not-for-profit advancing human health through animal-assisted services. With more than 60 peer reviewed articles, she has supervised 10 PhD students and over 30 Honours students. Recent research interests include cognitive flexibility and frustration behaviour in dogs, scent work in dogs (and participation in the COVID Detector Dog Program at the University of Adelaide), links between pet ownership and human health and burden of care in animal owners.
Parrot Fashion: Evolving Domains for an Charismatic Clan
Parrots fascinate humans: the similarities between our two seemingly
disparate lineages encourage a scrutiny afforded to few other bird
families. We share substantial longevity, tool-oriented intelligence and
assiduous long-term care of our offspring. Peeling away these
convergent layers, humans also share a similar sensory hierarchy with
birds, in contrast with our closest mammalian counterparts.
For all this alignment, this charismatic clan have often become victims
of our fascination for their colour, character and comedy. With immense
popularity comes the potential for misunderstanding and assumption, with
compromises in welfare state a frequent outcome: maladaptive behaviour
such as feather plucking, stereotypies and incessant vocalisation are
all common indicators.
At Zoos South Australia, parrots are a prominent taxon in our avian
collection and a feature species of our Flying Colours Free Flight Show.
To realise optimal care standards for the parrots and cockatoos in our
care, we orient our approach around Mellor’s Five Domains model. Ours
mission is to apply the model for our avian colleagues but also
communicate the concepts to our visitors, advocating for best practice
across the domains of nutrition, environment, health, behaviour and
mental state, with technical tools to take home and improve the lives of
the companion birds in our community.
Future Directions for Research in Precision Teaching
Future directions for research in Precision Teaching will be explored with reference to literature to date and the necessity to conduct research that focuses on wider adoption of Precision Teaching in educational settings. Precision Teaching has demonstrated effectiveness for improving a wide variety of skills. However, there are several gaps in the literature which would benefit from further exploration. These will be discussed with the aim of providing a roadmap for future research in this area.
Get to Know Aoife Mc Teirnan
Dr. Aoife Mc Tiernan is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst – Doctoral and Chartered Psychologist. She is the President of the European Association for Behaviour Analysis, current Director of the MSc and PhD in ABA at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and has over fifteen years of experience working in educational settings and disability services. Dr. Mc Tiernan’s primary interest is in the dissemination and integration of behaviour analytic and evidence-based approaches into educational settings. She has a special interest in Precision Teaching and accelerating learning for students at risk and in areas of socio-economic disadvantage, and has a number of publications in this area, including large group studies conducted in educational settings.