13th Symposium on Quantitative Analyses Behavior icon

13th Symposium on Quantitative Analyses Behavior




13th Symposium on Quantitative Analyses Behavior

Saturday and Sunday, June 9th and 10th, 1990

1 William James Hall, Harvard University

33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Welcome to the Society's Thirteenth Annual Symposium. The onsite registration fee, payable to the Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior is $55 per person. Students with ID receive a $30 discount.


Michael L. Commons

John W. Donahoe

Edmund Fantino

Alejandro Kacelnik

We thank the Dare Association, Inc. and the Department of Psychology, Harvard University, for their support. Typesetting was done with a Darwin-386 PC and a HPIII Laser Printer from PC Genius, Woburn, MA 01801, (617) 933-8442.

c. 1990 Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior


The Thirteenth Symposium on

Quantitative Analyses of Behavior at Harvard University

Saturday and Sunday, June 9th and 10th, 1990

1 William James Hall, Harvard University

33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

FRIDAY, JUNE 8, 1990 - Reception

5:00 PM - 7:30 PM

^ SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 1990

8:30 AM - Registration

9:00 AM


1. Tim Guilford, The Evolution of Prey Defenses: From Punishment to Signal. Animal Behaviour Research Group, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.

Toxic defenses in prey animals, and the warning signals that advertise them to predators, provide an ideal window into how the mechanisms of learning can have profound effects on the dynamics of natural selection. I explore a number of issues: (1) how the nature of prey punishment affects the selective conditions favoring prey defence, particularly the influence of delay and magnitude on the contributions made by individual and kin selection; (2) how the nature of the signal affects the contribution made by individual, kin, and synergistic selection to the evolution of the signal; (3) how the nature of the predator's response to the signal can affect the selective conditions maintaining the punishing attribute itself. I discuss the implications for the theories of warning signals, mimicry, and automimicry.

10:00 AM

2. Alejandro Kacelnik and Juan C. Reboreda, ^ Reinforcement, Autoshaping and Cooperation in a Two Player Game Between Starlings. University of Cambridge. King's College Research Centre, King's College, Cambridge CB2 1ST, UK.

We examine the psychological processes underlying the occurrence and maintenance of cooperative behaviour in a 2 x 2 game. Pairs of starlings in adjacent cages could only obtain food by cooperation. Pecking at a response key extinguished the opportunity to obtain food in that trial but gave its partner that possibility. If neither bird pecked, both subjects lost the opportunity. In accordance to the predictions of models of reciprocal altruism, the probability of a cooperative response was higher after trials in which the partner "cooperated" than after those in which the partner did not cooperate. This "cooperative" solution did not require the presence of another player and similar results were obtained in: i) a replicate experiment in which the members of the pair could not see each other and ii) a game in which each starling played against a "virtual" partner (a computer responding with TIT FOR TAT). A mechanistic interpretation based on classical conditioning is discussed and some supportive evidence is provided.

^ 11:00 AM - Break

11:15 AM

3. William Timberlake, Regulatory and Structural Analyses of the Circumstances of Reinforcement. Department of Psychology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405.

Classical accounts of reinforcement fall into two broad categories: empirical accounts in which reinforcing events are defined by their effect on a learned response, and more theoretical accounts in which reinforcing events are defined by their effect on the broader functioning of the organism. Both types of accounts inappropriately isolate causal reinforcing events rather than relating the circumstances producing reinforcement to the evolved structural and regulatory framework of a functioning organism.

12:15 PM - Group Photograph of Presenters and Co-presenters

12:30 PM - Luncheon

1:30 PM


4. Edmund Fantino, Roger Dunn, and Ray A. Preston, Delay-reduction Theory in 1990. Department of Psychology, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109; San Diego State University; Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Delay-reduction Theory, which states that the reinforcing strength of a stimulus depends on the reduction in time to primary reinforcement correlated with the onset stimulus (relative to the time to primary reinforcement measured from onset of the preceding stimulus) has been extended to several areas, most recently to percentage reinforcement schedules with and without signalled outcomes and to the effects of accessibility upon acceptability in foraging analogues. Current applications include empirical ones in which delay reduction and optimality theory diverge and theoretical ones in which several important theories can be seen as equivalent to delay reduction.

^ 2:30 PM

5. Peter R. Killeen, Heather Cate, and Tran Trung, Scaling Pigeons' Preference for Feeds: In Search of a Grain of Truth. Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104.

Preferences of hungry pigeons among nine grains and two commercial pellets were analyzed using a Thurstone procedure. The recovered scale was positively correlated with size of the grain or pellet and with handling time. The correlations improved when the Thurstonian assumption of equal-sized discriminal dispersions was replaced with the assumption that Weber's law holds for this continuum. The correlations weakened when the experiments were conducted with the pigeons close to their free-feeding weights, where the probability of sampling alternate grains increased. In the final experiment, it was shown that exposure to a large grain shifted the preferences between two smaller grains.

^ 3:30 PM - Break

3:45 PM

6. John W. Donahoe, Jose E. Burgos, and David C. Palmer, A Selectionist Approach to Reinforcement. Department of Psychology, Biopsychology Division, Tobin Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003.

We describe a single, behaviorally-based reinforcement principle--the Unified Reinforcement Principle (URP)--that accommodates central phenomena obtained with both respondent (classical) and operant (instrumental) procedures. New experimental findings are presented that: (a) are inconsistent with molar analyses of reinforcement, such as those based on response preferences in concurrent schedules, and (b) are consistent with URP, such as the functioning of aversive stimuli as reinforcers. The reinforcement principle is implemented in a biologically plausible, adaptive-network model that is consistent with the neural systems thought to underlie reinforcement in prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia (a response-selection network) and in hippocampal-association cortex (a stimulus-selection network). Findings interpreted by inferred-process theorists as distinguishing between the two conditioning procedures--e.g., stimulus-reinforcer versus response-reinforcer associations--are shown to be consistent with the network implementation of URP.

^ SUNDAY, JUNE 10, 1990

9:00 AM


7. Gene M. Heyman & Chad M. Oldfather, Measuring Ethanol Dependence in Rats: Inelasticity of Demand. Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138.

There is much interest in developing a practical animal model of alcohol dependence. Laboratory animals typically do not consume pharmacologically significant amounts of alcohol, however, unless they are food deprived. This suggests that the basis of alcohol reinforcement in non-human animals is strictly its calories. A measure from economics--demand elasticity--was used to determine whether food and alcohol reinforcement had the same basis in rats. In a choice procedure, rats had access to a sucrose and a sucrose-alcohol mixture. The price of alcohol was increased. However, preference (demand) for alcohol did not decrease, even though the sucrose solution was now a richer source of calories. Thus demand for alcohol was not elastic, and by this criterion the reinforcing properties of sucrose and alcohol differed. More generally, we suggest that demand elasticity is a useful criterion for measuring dependence on a reinforcer.

10:00 AM

8. Larry Stein, Hippocampal Neurons as Functional Units of Reinforcement. Department of Pharmacology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92664

Using the hippocampal-slice preparation, we examined operant conditioning of individual pyramidal cell activity using local micropressure applications of transmitters and drugs as reinforcement; the same injections administered independently of bursting provided a control for direct pharmacological stimulation or facilitation of firing. The results suggested that spontaneous bursting of individual CA1 pyramidal neurons may be reinforced with activity-contingent injections of dopamine and cocaine, whereas CA3-bursting responses may be reinforced with contingently-applied dynorphin A. Because it is unlikely that a brain cell would display a gratuitous capacity for operant conditioning, the individual neuron could be an important organizational brain unit for positive reinforcement.

^ 11:00 AM - Break

11:15 AM

9. Bartley G. Hoebel, G. P. Mark, K. Andrea, and L. Hernandez, In Vivo Measurement of Learned Dopamine and Serotonin Release in the Brain: Monoamines as Network Modulators and their Control by Integrative Peptides. Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1010.

Earlier work showed that dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens is necessary and sufficient for positive reinforcement. Now brain microdialysis allows quantitative measurement of DA release during behavior. 1) Food, water, salt and lateral hypothalamic stimulation increased DA release. 2) Saccharine also increased DA, but when saccharine was paired with LiCl-induced nausea (US) the taste became a CS for DA decrease. 3) Cocaine served as US for a needle prick (CS+) to induce DA increase. These first demonstrations of conditioned changes in neurotransmitter release suggest that DA decrease can be elicited by a CS and may be involved in avoidance of toxic food; DA increase can be elicited by a CS+ and may be involved in relapse to drugs of abuse.

12:15 PM - Luncheon

1:15 PM


10. Jacob L. Gewirtz and Martha Pelaez-Nogueras, Reinforcement-Contingency Types in Early Human Interactions. Florida International University, Tamiami Trail, Miami, Fl 33199.

Two-way or bidirectional influence processes are ordinarily involved in mother-infant interaction, in which the operant conditioning of the behaviors of both individuals occurs concurrently. The range of type of response/contingent-stimulus relations denoting positive (including conjugate) and negative reinforcement in infants and caregivers is surveyed. Some speculations about unconditioned reinforcers are given. Finally, unrecognized reinforcement effects in studies of nonbehavioral, nonlearning researchers on effects of "contingencies" contributing to "feelings of efficacy/control" and to "contingency perception" are identified.

^ 2:15 PM

11. Michael L. Commons, The Development of Increasingly Hierarchically Complex Reinforcers. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, 74 Fenwood Road, Boston, MA 02115-6196.

The theory suggests both stage-independent--notions of accommodation and adaptation and their behavioral equivalents in learning theory such as the necessity of the reinforcement of next-stage behavior for stage change--and stage-dependent conditions produce an advance along the sequence of reinforcement stages. The theory also suggests attachment and refers to the nonsubstitutability of reinforcers emanating from different sources. Nonsubstitutable sources are the attachment objects. Simple, generalized and pervasive imitation are used along with role-taking to construct a perspective of the other. The resulting perspective on interaction partially determines what objects and events may serve as reinforcers and sources of reinforcers. Behaviorally, this equates with the development of potentially reinforcing events consisting of increasingly complex interactions.

3:15 PM - Break

3:30 PM


12. Jon D. Ringen, Adaptation, Teleology, and Selection by Consequences. Department of Philosophy, Indiana University at South Bend, 1700 Mishawaka Avenue, P.O. Box 7111, South Bend, IN 46634.

This paper presents and defends the view that reinforcement and natural selection are selection processes, that selection processes are neither mechanistic nor teleological, and that mentalistic and vitalistic processes are teleological but not mechanistic. The differences between these types of processes are systematically described and used in discussing the conceptual and methodological significance of "selection type theories" and B. F. Skinner's radical behaviorist view that "...operant behavior is the field of intention, purpose, and expectation. It deals with that field precisely as the theory of evolution has dealt with another kind of purpose."

For registration information see attached sheet, or write: Dr. Michael L. Commons, Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior, 234 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138-1328


(Paid by check to the Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior)

(Postmarked by May 30, 1990)

Name Title


City State

Zip/Postal Code Country


E-Mail Address

( ) Regular $45.00 [includes lunch]

( ) Student $25.00 [send xeroxed copy of student ID, includes lunch]



( ) $20 [add to pre-registration fee check]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

cut here and mail with your check to:

Dr. Michael L. Commons, Society for Quantitative Analyses of Behavior

234 Huron Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138-1328 Telephone (617) 497-5270



( ) Regular $55.00 [includes lunch]

( ) Student $30.00 [includes lunch]

On site registration: 5:00-7:30 PM Friday, June 8 at the RECEPTION in Room 1550, William James Hall, 33 Kirkland Street, and 8:00-9:00 AM, June 9, in the LOBBY of William James Hall.

Registration by mail before May 30th, 1990 is recommended as seating is limited.



Rooms have been reserved in the name of the symposium ("Harvard Symposium on Quantitative Analysis of Behavior") for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at:

Sheraton Commander Hotel

16 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 547-4800, or (800) 325-3535

1/2 mile to William James Hall.

Single: $155.00; Double $165.00.

Best Western Homestead Inn

220 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA 02138

(617) 491-1890 or (800) 528-1234

2 miles (Take Concord Avenue bus).

Single: $84.00; Double $94.00.

Reserve your room as soon as possible. The hotel will not hold them very long. Because of local graduation ceremonies, space fills up rapidly.

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