Professor - Behavior Analysis Program
Basic Operant Learning, Self Control and Impulsivity, Timing, Behavioral Pharmacology
I am a Professor in the Department of Psychology. My research interests are in basic behavioral phenomena, such as response persistence, sensitivity to delayed outcomes, conditional discriminations, and environmental influences on drug effects. My work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health. I completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Vermont’s Human Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory after earning my PhD and MA in psychology, specializing in behavior analysis, from West Virginia University. I received a BS in psychology from the University of Florida. My teaching interests include basic behavior analysis and behavioral pharmacology. I have served on the board of editors of a number of journals and am currently Editor for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.
My students are active collaborators in my laboratory. Together, they have several ongoing research projects asking a variety of questions, including, but not limited to, the following. In broad terms they are:
Delay Discounting/Impulsivity: How do people value outcomes when they are delayed? Why do consumable outcomes, like food and drugs of abuse, tend to be discounted more steeply than other types of outcomes? What is the relation between addiction and delay discounting?
Environmental Factors Influencing the Development of Tolerance and Sensitization to Drugs of Abuse: What is the role of response-consequence relations in determining whether tolerance (a decrease in the effectiveness of a drug) or sensitization (an increase in the effectiveness of a drug) will occur in an animal model? What is the relation between voluntary behavior and locomotor activity in chronic drug effects?
Drug and Environmental Influences on Timing/Temporal Discrimination: By what mechanisms do drugs of abuse affect temporal discrimination in an animal model? How are these alternations in temporal perception related to changes produced by environmental disruptors?
Factors Affecting Response Persistence and Resistance to Change (with Drs. John A. “Tony” Nevin and Timothy Shahan): How is the accuracy of conditional discrimination in the face of disruption influenced by baseline conditions of reinforcement in an animal model? Do the same factors affect the persistence of accuracy as effect relatively simple operant behavior?