This competing renewal application seeks support to continue a longstanding program of research on stimulus control development in individuals whose intellectual disabilities render them difficult-to-teach with the pedagological techniques of typical educational environments. The program has two major objectives: (1) to further understanding of basic stimulus control processes in learning and (2) to apply the resulting knowledge to improve our ability to teach and evaluate individuals with disabilities. Past research under NICHD sponsorship has allowed us to develop numerous beneficial intervention approaches that have been documented in our past publications and are now being applied effectively in intervention settings. We intend this new program to continue that tradition, and to extend it into several new and/or substantially expanded areas, including: (a) formalized studies of the interaction of participant diagnostic status (autism, Down Syndrome, undifferentiated mental retardation, etc.) with environmental contingencies; (b) increased emphases on sensory and perceptual processes involved in detecting stimulus relations within displays that include both visual and auditory stimuli; and (c) expanded use of methodologies that reveal behavioral and biobehavioral processes that typically go unmeasured in research of this type. Four projects are proposed: Projects 1 and 2 will study stimulus structure variables that are important in promoting desirable forms of stimulus control in functional academics and augmentative/alternative communication, respectively. Project 3 will study stimulus control processes in the detection of facial expression and emotion by persons from various disability groups. Project 4 will take the program into a new area, concentrating on processes involved in the development of stimulus control by auditory stimuli. These projects are united by a common interest in merging methods and perspectives of several subdisciplines of behavioral/behavioral sciences (behavior analysis, cognitive neuroscience, and developmental psycholinguistics) in research that can be effectively translated to the classroom and clinic. The project's theoretical orientation is explicitly transdisciplinary, with contingency detection and learning as a central organizing concept. The projects are united also by two core units that provide essential cross-project services. The Program Administration and Project Coordination Core (A) will oversee and coordinate program operations. The Shared Instrument Core (B) promotes effective use of shared equipment and facilities. Both core units also are tasked with effectively interfacing with the UMMS MRDDRC, which serves as a further source of project support and integration. ? ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-H (WM))
Program Officer
Kau, Alice S
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University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
Schools of Medicine
United States
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McIlvane, William J; Kledaras, Joanne B; Gerard, Christophe J et al. (2018) Algorithmic analysis of relational learning processes in instructional technology: Some implications for basic, translational, and applied research. Behav Processes 152:18-25
Dube, William V; Farber, Rachel S; Mueller, Marlana R et al. (2016) Stimulus Overselectivity in Autism, Down Syndrome, and Typical Development. Am J Intellect Dev Disabil 121:219-35
McIlvane, W J; Gerard, C J; Kledaras, J B et al. (2016) Teaching Stimulus-Stimulus Relations to Minimally Verbal Individuals: Reflections on Technology and Future Directions. Eur J Behav Anal 17:49-68
Wilkinson, Krista M; O'Neill, Tara; McIlvane, William J (2014) Eye-tracking measures reveal how changes in the design of aided AAC displays influence the efficiency of locating symbols by school-age children without disabilities. J Speech Lang Hear Res 57:455-66
Dube, William V; Wilkinson, Krista M (2014) The potential influence of stimulus overselectivity in AAC: information from eye tracking and behavioral studies of attention with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Augment Altern Commun 30:172-85
Wilkinson, Krista M; Mitchell, Teresa (2014) Eye tracking research to answer questions about augmentative and alternative communication assessment and intervention. Augment Altern Commun 30:106-19
Morro, Greg; Mackay, Harry A; Carlin, Michael T (2014) Rapid Teaching of Arbitrary Matching in Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. Psychol Rec 64:731-742
Grisante, Priscila C; Galesi, Fernanda L; Sabino, NathalĂ­ M et al. (2013) Go/No-Go Procedure with Compound Stimuli: Effects of Training Structure On the Emergence of Equivalence Classes. Psychol Rec 63:63
Wilkinson, Krista M; McIlvane, William J (2013) Perceptual factors influence visual search for meaningful symbols in individuals with intellectual disabilities and Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorders. Am J Intellect Dev Disabil 118:353-64
McIlvane, William J; Kledaras, Joanne B (2012) Some Things We Learned from Sidman and Some We Did Not (We Think). Eur J Behav Anal 13:97-109

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