John W. Donahoe

John W. Donahoe
University of Massachusetts Amherst | UMass Amherst · Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Ph.D.

About

87
Publications
43,171
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1,828
Citations
Research Experience
September 1969 - December 2014
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Position
  • Professor Emeritus

Publications

Publications (87)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Basic research on the behavioral and neural processes of learning indicates that the range of deficits observed along the autism spectrum arise from neuro-developmental errors in the mechanisms of conditioned reinforcement. Specific instances of these errors can produce any of a wide range of behavioral dysfunctions, including the delay in language...
Article
Full-text available
Behavior analysis and neuroscience are disciplines in their own right but are united in that both are subfields of a common overarching field—biology. What most fundamentally unites these disciplines is a shared commitment to selectionism, the Darwinian mode of explanation. In selectionism, the order and complexity observed in nature are seen as th...
Article
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An article published in Behavioural Processes (Calvin and McDowell, 2015) contemplated that the approach to neural networks developed by the present authors cannot simulate certain behavioral findings, notably the Kamin blocking effect and successive conditioning. Here we demonstrate that these concerns are unwarranted as an overall characterizatio...
Article
Full-text available
Behavior analysis and neuroscience are disciplines in their own right but are united in that both are subfields of a common overarching field—biology. What most fundamentally unites these disciplines is a shared commitment to selectionism, the Darwinian mode of explanation. In selectionism, the order and complexity observed in nature are seen as th...
Conference Paper
The audio-visual prersentation illustrates the mutually beneficial relation between behavior analysis and neuroscience, two subdiscilines of biology. The illustration focuses on understanding the reinforcement process--both unconditioned and conditioned reinforcers--at the behavioral, neural-systems, and cellular levels of analysis. The link below...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Neural Systems of Conditioning: The presentation describes the major neural systems involved in selection by reinforcement and relates them to several conditioning phenomena and behavioral dysfunctions. These include discrimination formation, superstitious conditioning, memory, attention-deficit disorder, and various characteristics of autistic beh...
Article
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Data
Learning and Complex Behavior is a book that describes basic biobehavioral processes and explores their implications for complex human behavior. Basic processes (4 chapters) include natural selection, selection by reinforcement, generalization, discrimination, conditioned reinforcement, schedules of reinforcement, and associated phenomena. Complex...
Data
This citation refers to a book. For further information, copy and paste in your browser the following link. http://lcb-online.org/
Article
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By definition, in a Pavlovian (classical) procedure a stimulus is presented prior to an eliciting stimulus whereas in an operant procedure a response occurs prior to the eliciting stimulus. In spite of the different contingencies implemented by the two procedures, some behavior necessarily precedes the eliciting stimulus in the Pavlovian procedure...
Article
Full-text available
Learning and Complex Behavior describes basic biobehavioral processes and explores their implications for complex human behavior. Basic processes (4 chapters) include natural selection, selection by reinforcement, generalization, discrimination, conditioned reinforcement, schedules of reinforcement, and associated phenomena. Complex behavior (8 cha...
Article
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Varying the correlation between aversive and appetitive events produced by the terminal response of an FR conflict chain was found to alter the amount of response suppression during conflict but not the shape of the conflict gradient. These findings are inconsistent with the assumption of the independence of approach and avoidance gradients in conf...
Article
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I begin my commentary on the contributions of Peter Killeen and Jack McDowell by endorsing the general conclusion expressed by Linda Hayes at the end of the conference: These papers are of a very high order and put a lie to the claim that theory plays little role in behavior analysis. My primary purpose here is to discuss the cellular-automaton (CA...
Article
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Using FR approach and conflict chains and a light whose intensity increased or decreased within the FR as a function of responding, the present experiment found stimulus intensity to affect performance only when on-trial stimuli were discriminated from off-trial stimuli by permitting nonreinforced barpressing during the intertrial interval. These f...
Conference Paper
The following topics are discussed: (1) implications of Darwinian thinking (selectionism) for selection by reinforcement, (2) the problem of “circularity” and its treatment by the probability-differential (Premack) and response-deprivation (Timberlake & Allison) hypotheses, (3) the Rescorla-Wagner model of conditioning and its conceptual problems,...
Article
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After having initially been trained for a classroom demonstration, a pigeon was tested for retention following a 12-year period without intervening training. Strong evidence was obtained of stimulus control and substantial evidence was found of schedule control by the fixed-interval and fixed-ratio components of the multiple schedule used in initia...
Article
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A brief account of what led some in the behavior-analytic comminity to become enamored of the molar approach to theory.
Article
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This review focuses on parallels between the selectionist sciences of evolutionary biology and behavior analysis. In selectionism, complex phenomena are interpreted as the cumulative products of relatively simple processes acting over time—natural selection in evolutionary biology and reinforcement in behavior analysis. Because evolutionary biology...
Article
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A new Pavlovian conditioning preparation was developed using the nictitating membrane of the restrained pigeon. Either visual or auditory stimuli served as conditioned stimuli (CSs) with an unconditioned stimulus (US) of a puff of air to the cornea. Movement of the nictitating membrane constituted the conditioned and unconditioned responses (CR and...
Chapter
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A theory consists of a set of principles based on observations typically obtained under controlled laboratory conditions. The function of theory is to summarize in a concise fashion observations in a field of study and to enable predictions about future observations in that field. Learning theory is concerned with the variables that produce long-la...
Article
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The book Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience (2003) is an engaging criticism of cognitive neuroscience from the perspective of a Wittgensteinian philosophy of ordinary language. The authors' main claim is that assertions like "the brain sees" and "the left hemisphere thinks" are integral to cognitive neuroscience but that they are meaningless...
Article
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both the target article and the precommentary demonstrate that relatively simple biobehavioral processes have the cumulative effect of fostering behavioral outcomes characteristic of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (adhd). as such, the articles illustrate a central theme of darwinian thinking – basic processes acting over time can produce...
Article
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Behavior analysis and mainstream psychology differ fundamentally in their approaches to the explana- tion of complex behavior. This difference arises from psychology’s failure to observe Skinner’s distinction between experimental analysis and interpretation, a distinction that is honored in other sciences. Behavior analysis uses principles derived...
Article
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Choice typically is studied by exposing organisms to concurrent variable-interval schedules in which not only responses controlled by stimuli on the key are acquired but also switching responses and likely other operants as well. In the present research, discriminated key-pecking responses in pigeons were first acquired using a multiple schedule th...
Article
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A major source of tension between Staddon's The new behaviorism and Baum's Review is that the former was written for a general audience but the latter evaluates it as a technical work. Be that as it may, the central issue-Skinner's conception of the role of theory in behavior analysis-is inadequately portrayed in both the book and the review. The t...
Article
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A new Pavlovian procedure used fluid-elicited throat-movement responses of the pigeon (N=66) to study the effects on conditioning of the temporal relation of the conditioned stimulus (CS) to the unconditioned stimulus-unconditioned response (US-UR). Because the throat-movement response has a substantial latency and duration, the relation of the CS...
Chapter
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The goals of this chapter are threefold: (a) to characterize selectionism as a general approach to understanding complex phenomena as products of relatively simple processes acting over time, (b) to identify conceptual impediments to the acceptance of selection by reinforcement as the central process by which complex behavior emerges, and (c) to ou...
Article
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Darwin proposed a powerful functional principle-natural selection-to interpret phylogenetic diversity and complexity. Nevertheless, some 70 years elapsed before even biologists embraced his account. The triumph of natural selection required two additional factors: (a) biological mechanisms that implemented the functional principle (i.e. genetics);...
Article
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Revaluation refers to phenomena in which the strength of an operant is altered by reinforcer-related manipulations that take place outside the conditioning situation in which the operant was selected. As an example, if lever pressing is acquired using food as a reinforcer and food is later paired with an aversive stimulus, the frequency of lever pr...
Article
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to selectionism and connectionism, Thorndike allied himself with the resurgent Darwinism of his time and, in so doing, foreshadowed the biobehavioral approach of our time. After documenting Thorndike's selectionist views, I close by noting his prescient comments on a topic of central interest in current associationist accounts of animal learning---...
Article
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From the very outset of his work, Thorndike allied himself with the Darwinian proposition that complex phenomena can arise as the cumulative effects of a selection process, here the process envisioned by the law of effect. Thorndike's selectionist approach, when combined with his connectionism, laid the foundation for a synthesis of behavior analys...
Article
nalytic critique of attempts to explain regularities in behavior by invoking structures and Correspondence and requests for reprints may be addressed to John W. Donahoe, Department of Psychology, Program in Neuroscience and Behavior, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002 (E-mail: jdonahoe@psych.umass.edu) or to Jose E. Burgos, A...
Article
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Inferred-process theories propose various internal timing mechanisms to provide discriminative stimuli for temporal control of behavior. Biobehaviorally informed computer simulations indicate that timing may emerge from the action of reinforcement on neural circuits without the need to postulate timers of any sort.
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Article
Evolution through natural selection has addressed the problem of modifying synapses throughout large networks of neurons by exploiting diffusely projecting neuromodulatory systems. When pre- and postsynaptic neurons are coactive, synaptic efficacies increase or decrease dependent upon whether the neuromodulator dopamine is simultaneously present or...
Article
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The central focus of this essay is whether the effect of reinforcement is best viewed as the strengthenng of responding or the strengthening of the environmental control of responding. We make the argument that adherence to Skinner's goal of achieving a moment-to-moment analysis of behavior compels acceptance of the latter view. Moreover, a thoroug...
Article
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We describe a principle of reinforcement that draws upon experimental analyses of both behavior and the neurosciences. Some of the implications of this principle for the interpretation of behavior are explored using computer simulations of adaptive neural networks. The simulations indicate that a single reinforcement principle, implemented in a bio...
Article
Full-text available
Contingencies of selection, be they phylogenetic or ontogenetic, merely set boundaries on units; they do not provide blueprints. Thus, variability is fundamental to all products of selection. Skinner, by characterizing the units of analysis in behavior as generic in nature, established his science squarely within the selectionist paradigm, thereby...
Article
Full-text available
Contingencies of selection, be they phylogenetic or ontogenetic, merely set boundaries on units; they do not provide blueprints. Thus, variability is fundamental to all products of selection. Skinner, by characterizing the units of analysis in behavior as generic in nature, established his science squarely within the selectionist paradigm, thereby...
Article
Explicit consolidation of memory, or fixation of declarative belief, appears to be physically represented in changes of synaptic conductances of neurons in the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex (PTO) of the mammalian forebrain. This fixation of belief in PTO is postulated to be critically dependent on a diffuse reinforcement signal via...
Article
Full-text available
Contingencies of selection, be they phylogenetic or onto¬genetic, merely set boundaries on units; the do not provide blueprints. Thus, variability is fundamental to all units of selection. Skinner, by characterizing the units of analysis in behavior as generic in nature, established his science squarely within the selectionist paradigm, thereby avo...
Article
Full-text available
When discriminated interresponse-time (IRT) procedures have been used to assess preference relations among temporally extended operants, deviations from matching have been obtained. Using a yoked-control procedure, the present study found that key pecking in a discriminated IRT procedure has two sources of strength--that arising from the response-r...
Article
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A classical conditioning procedure was instituted in which the locus of the US was changed coincidentally with the onset of the compound conditioning phase of the Kamin blocking design. The nictitating membrane of the rabbit served as the conditioning preparation. Three groups of nine rabbits each were employed: a conventional blocking group in whi...
Article
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Prior research indicated that a training sequence consisting of a negative stimulus followed by a positive stimulus constitutes the minimal condition for the production of postdiscrimination phenomena typically observed after training with random sequences of the discriminanda. The present experiments, employing multiple schedules with pigeon subje...
Article
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A procedure is described for restraining the pigeon while recording movement of the nictitating membrane. The preparation provides a means of studying classical conditioning that combines the rich sensory capacities of the pigeon with the control achieved in nictitating membrane conditioning of the rabbit.
Article
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A formal statement of a relational principle of reinforcement is developed that makes contact with analyses of choice, interresponse-time distributions, and stimulus control. Some implications for current theoretical and empirical work in the various areas are examined. In this paper, the relational principle of reinforcement proposed by Premack (1...
Article
Gave 48 male albino rats a discrete-trials bar-pressing task. Discrimination performance was facilitated by shock given prior to a response to S+. This finding is consistent with the outcome of analogous free-responding experiments in indicating that shock can serve as a discriminative stimulus. Shock given following a response to S+ did not facili...
Article
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Ran 24 male Sprague-Dawley albino rats on 150 classical conditioning trials with a compound CS paired with shock. Then barpressing and heart-rate responses to the 1st (S1) and 2nd (S2) occurring components and to the compound (S1 2) were assessed using a conditioned suppression procedure. The decrease in barpressing and heart rate to S1 was greater...
Article
From considerations based upon the phenomena of induction and behavioral contrast, it was hypothesized that the postdiscrimination gradient (PDG) would be influenced by the stimulus context during generalization testing. Following the acquisition of a successive, brightness discrimination, 23 pigeons received a series of generalization tests with e...
Article
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begin by describing two of the major selectionist principles derived from experimental analyses conducted within the conceptual framework of radical behaviorism / after exposing these principles, some of their implications for understanding complex behavior—especially verbal behavior—are explored although neuropsychological data and the results o...
Article
In an effort to achieve external stimulus control within a response-correlated chain, 32 albino rats were given an intertrial interval procedure which reversed the correlation between rate of responding and within-chain delay of reinforcement which obtained during the approach trial. With this procedure, unlike previous findings with response-corre...
Article
Used 60 male albino rats in a successive discrimination experiment employing a bar-pressing task, in a study to determine whether the facilitation of performance by shock could be attributed to the interaction of 2 well-documented functions of shock its ability to serve as a cue and as a punishment without recourse to functions, i.e., secondary rei...
Article
USING 128 RATS IN A SERIES OF EXPERIMENTS EMPLOYING BAR-PRESSING TASKS, THE FOLLOWING SOURCES OF STIMULUS CONTROL OF THE SHAPE OF APPROACH GRADIENTS WERE IDENTIFIED: (1) EXTERNAL STIMULI CONTROLLED INSTRUMENTAL CHAINS IN WHICH RESPONSE SPEED WAS UNCORRELATED WITH WITHIN-CHAIN DELAY OF REINFORCEMENT; (2) INTERNAL, RESPONSE-PRODUCED STIMULI CONTROLLE...
Article
The effects of shock intensity (.13 ma. or .30 ma.) and shock placement (S+ or S-) on the learning of a brightness discrimination were investigated. 30 albino rats served as Ss in a bar-pressing task. Low-intensity shock (.13 ma.) facilitated the rate of discrimination formation whether placed in S+ or S-. The omission of .13 ma. shock after the at...
Article
This study investigated the relationship between verbal stimuli and successive associative responses using both a measure of meaning (the semantic differential) and an index of association strength. Two methods of response production were employed: repeated association and chain association. The meaning of the response became progressively less sim...
Article
"Two groups of subjects, 36 normals and 36 schizophrenics, were studied in the acquisition and retention of serial lists of varying intralist and interlist similarity… . [It was found that] The heightened sensitivity of schizophrenics to interference and distraction is confined to response competition based upon meaningful similarity… . Prolonged w...
Article
Subjects played a two-dimensional geometric game under two conditions of feedback concerning the consequences of their responses. One group was informed about a response from a single source which collapsed the two-dimensional character of the game by means of Euclidean distance measurements. A second group received information from two sources whi...
Article
Judges were unable to integrate separate judgments into an accurate global statement. Scaling is a means of assessing clinical judgment under a variety of conditions.

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