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Experimental analysis of behavior – Translational and conceptual research

The group concentrates on some specific research questions and issues that are interesting from a basic research perspective as well as from an applied research perspective.

Sources of novel behaviour and behavioural variability

Can behavioural variability and creativity be learnt?

Just as variation in characteristics is crucial to natural selection, behavioural variability is crucial to learning. Behavioural variations can have different consequences, and a behaviour is weakened or strengthened depending on the consequences. Variability and creativity can also have a bearing on how effective organisations or cultures are.

Continuous repertoires in animals

A continuous repertoire has to do with behaviour that changes along a dimension with changes along a stimulus dimension (for example turning the car wheel depending on how sharp the turn is). In humans, training in a limited number of corresponding stimuli-behaviour pairs will also trigger untrained responses to corresponding stimuli. We are examining whether this is also the case in animals.

Behavioural variation for better animal welfare in zoos (tigers, giraffes)

It is a problem in zoos that animals develop stereotyped behaviours (for example pacing back and forth). The animals can be activated by means of various behaviour modification measures, making their behaviour more varied and improving animal welfare.

Naming – training procedures to establish new words without specific training

The project studies the effect of different training procedures in teaching language skills to children and how training can be optimised by establishing words without specific training.

Establishing conditional reinforcement

Conditional reinforcers are stimuli in the surroundings that are, in principle, neutral, but acquire reinforcing qualities through learning. Praise, money, nods and smiles are common examples. The establishment of conditional reinforcers are important to children's normal development. It is probable that symptoms of autism may be related to problems in this area, and it is therefore important to find effective procedures for establishing conditional reinforcement.

  • Smiles as a conditional reinforcer for behaviour in babies.
  • Joint attention in children with autism.
  • Different procedures for establishing conditional reinforcement of behaviour in children.
  • Comparison of two procedures for establishing conditional reinforcement of behaviour in rats.

Studies of an animal model of ADHD in children

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a common condition in children, characterised by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and their control rats (WKY) are the most common animal model for ADHD, and are used to study the link between learning and the development of ADHD-Iike behavioural characteristics:

  • Establishing sequences of behaviour in SHR and WKY rats
  • Behaviour controlled by stimuli (stimulus control) and extinction of behaviour
  • Can tolerance of intermittent or delayed reinforcement be trained?

Sources of cultural practices

Studies of factors that are important to the establishment of interaction/cooperation in chimpanzees

Theory/philosophy

Conceptual and philosophy of science studies of selection and overall studies of verbal behaviour.

  • Modularity and selection at three levels (species, individual, culture).
  • Molar versus molecular analysis of verbal behaviour.
Forskergruppen Eksperimentell atferdsanalyse – Translasjonell og konseptuell forskning