The Behavior Science Core includes facilities and expertise from complementary disciplines at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI): Behavioral Psychology. Neuropsychology, and Motion Analysis. The Behavior Science Core integrates the combined experience and expertise of these three major resources. The scientists who utilize the Core work in various disciplines but share a broad focus on research relevant to the effects of various factors that influence CNS development and functioning. In all of these studies, the objectives of the investigators are dependent on Behavior Science methods for objectively measuring specific aspects of performance or behavior. The Behavior Science Core supports these projects by guiding selection of appropriate measures, training participants to cooperate with testing, assessment and protocol-based intervention procedures. The Core helps ensure that the methods being employed are appropriate for addressing project hypotheses as well as for use with the population under study, and that they are implemented according to best practices. The specific objectives of Core F are to: 1 )Enhance the integrity of the independent variable in research involving human subjects (especially children and youth) where cooperation (compliance, adherence) represents a serious confound or barrier to the fidelity with which the research protocol can be implemented;and, 2) Expand the range and type of dependent variables available to investigators by providing access to state-of-the-science methods to: (a) objectively quantify behavioral dependent variables, especially those specific to IDD;(b) identify, track and compare cognitive, behavioral and developmental characteristics of individuals with genetic and/or medical disorders, syndromes or diagnoses, (c) track participants'behavioral responses as outcome measures to document response to intervention approaches, and (d) relate these measurements of behavior, cognition, and motor function to brain structure and function. The first objective is achieved by behavioral techniques involving antecedent stimulus control procedures (e.g., role playing, re-design of equipment behavioral exposure therapy, counter-conditioning) and contingency-based shaping procedures (differential reinforcement with music, video, token or point systems, etc.). The second objective is achieved by the proper selection and use of: a) systematic behavioral, neuropsychological and motor function assessment procedures, b) direct observation techniques typically employed in behavior analytic research, c) specific performance tasks designed to assess behavioral, psychological (e.g., cognition, learning) and human motion variables, and d) systematically relating these behavioral data to neuroimaging results reflecting brain anatomy and function. The process by which the Core objectives are achieved involves three phases: (a) development and selection of appropriate methods, (b) pilot testing, redesign, refinement, and initial implementation by Core staff to demonstrate feasibility (when previous relevant experience is limited), and, (c) training investigators'staff to implement the protocols and methods developed and to incorporate them as a standard component of their research protocols. For those projects where the science has advanced to the point of testing interventions aimed at ameliorating the effects of CNS insult on development and functioning, the intervention typically requires training participants to cooperate with medical interventions (oral medication, respiratory support, pharmacotherapy, etc.). To ensure the success of these studies, the Core assists investigators with developing environmental and behavioral interventions to increase participant adherence to the medical protocol. Finally, in order to validate the benefits of the investigators'intervention protocols, repeated assessment with developmental, behavioral, neuropsychological, and/or movement measures must be conducted. The Behavior Science Core collaborates in selecting or developing these procedures, as well as in the analysis and interpretation of the resulting data.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-H (ID))
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Hugo W. Moser Research Institute Kennedy Krieger
United States
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