Examining the Relationship Between Heart Rate and Problem Behavior: A Case Study of Severe Skin Picking in Prader-Willi Syndrome

American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Impact Factor: 2.08). 11/2013; 118(6):460-74. DOI: 10.1352/1944.7558-118.6.460
Source: PubMed


Abstract Few studies have examined the relationship between heart rate and self-injurious behavior (SIB) shown by individuals with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities). In this single-case study, we simultaneously monitored heart rate and activity levels during a functional analysis of severe skin picking behavior exhibited by a young man with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). Results of the functional analysis indicated that the participant's skin picking was maintained by automatic reinforcement. A within-session analysis of the data indicated that skin picking bouts resulted in an increase in heart rate, suggesting a positive- automatic reinforcement function. These data indicate that inclusion of heart rate and activity-level monitoring during a functional analysis may provide important additional information concerning the determinants of SIB.

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    • "Itch and pain processing may thus play an important role in the skin-picking behaviors displayed in PWS. Skinpicking behaviors may initially occur in response to a physiological event such as itch sensation and serve the purpose of rebalancing an individual's internal homeostasis [Hall et al., 2013; Kern et al., 2003; Lovaas et al., 1987]. Thus, interoceptive disturbance may either distort the internal stimuli's signal strength (such as the strength of the sensation of itch and the relief of itch provided by scratching) and/or the experience of pain. "
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), a genetic disorder caused by mutations to the q11-13 region on chromosome 15, commonly show severe skin-picking behaviors that can cause open wounds and sores on the body. To our knowledge, however, no studies have examined the potential neural mechanisms underlying these behaviors. Seventeen individuals with PWS, aged 6-25 years, who showed severe skin-picking behaviors, were recruited and scanned on a 3T scanner. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while episodes of skin picking were recorded on an MRI-safe video camera. Three participants displayed skin picking continuously throughout the scan, three participants did not display skin picking, and the data for one participant evidenced significant B0 inhomogeneity that could not be corrected. The data for the remaining 10 participants (six male, four female) who displayed a sufficient number of picking and nonpicking episodes were subjected to fMRI analysis. Results showed that regions involved in interoceptive, motor, attention, and somatosensory processing were activated during episodes of skin-picking behavior compared with nonpicking episodes. Scores obtained on the Self-Injury Trauma scale were significantly negatively correlated with mean activation within the right insula and left precentral gyrus. These data indicate that itch and pain processes appear to underlie skin-picking behaviors in PWS, suggesting that interoceptive disturbance may contribute to the severity and maintenance of abnormal skin-picking behaviors in PWS. Implications for treatments are discussed. Hum Brain Mapp, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Human Brain Mapping
    • "Given the data from previous studies, we hypothesized that skin picking displayed by participants with PWS would occur at high levels in the alone condition (i.e., be maintained by automatic reinforcement). To examine whether skin picking may be under stimulus control of the presence of an adult, we included an additional ignore condition, similar to our previous study (Hall et al., 2013). If skin picking also occurred at high levels in the ignore condition, this would indicate that skin picking was not under stimulus control of the presence of an adult. "
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    ABSTRACT: Skin picking is an extremely distressing and treatment resistant behavior commonly shown by individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). However, with the exception of a limited number of published single-case and survey studies, little is known about the environmental determinants of skin picking in this population. In this study, functional analyses were conducted with thirteen individuals with PWS, aged 6-23 years, who engaged in severe skin-picking behavior. In addition to the conditions typically employed in a functional analysis (i.e., alone, attention, play, demand), we included an ignore condition to examine potential effects of stimulus control by the presence of an adult. Twelve participants engaged in skin picking during the functional analysis, with the highest levels occurring in the alone and ignore conditions for eight participants, suggesting that skin picking in these participants was maintained by automatic reinforcement. For the remaining four participants, an undifferentiated pattern of low-rate skin picking was observed across conditions. These data confirm previous studies indicating that skin picking in PWS may be maintained most often by automatically produced sensory consequences. There were no associations between demographic characteristics of the participants (e.g., sex, age, IQ or BMI) and levels of skin picking observed in the functional analysis. Additional investigations are needed to identify the nature of the sensory consequences produced during episodes of skin picking in PWS. Behavioral interventions designed to extinguish or compete with the potential sensory consequences arising from skin picking in PWS are also warranted.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Research in Developmental Disabilities
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the topography, severity, potential sources of reinforcement, and treatments utilized for skin-picking behavior shown by individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). The parents of 55 individuals with PWS, aged 6-25 years, were interviewed about their child's skin-picking behavior using the Self-Injury Trauma Scale (SIT; Iwata, Pace, Kissel, Nau, & Farber, 1990) and the Functional Analysis Screening Tool (FAST; Iwata, DeLeon, & Roscoe, 2013). Results showed that skin picking in PWS occurred on the extremities (i.e., arms, legs, hands, and feet) for 75% of cases and resulted in bodily injury for 83.7% cases. Skin picking posed a high risk to the individual concerned in 41.8% of cases. Automatic sensory stimulation was identified as a potential source of reinforcement in the majority of cases (52.7%) followed by access to social attention or preferred items (36.4%). Treatments utilized by parents were primarily behavioral strategies (56.3%) followed by basic first aid (54.5%). There were no differences in the topography, severity or potential source of reinforcement between those with the deletion (DEL) subtype and those with the uniparental disomy (UPD) subtype. Taken together, these data indicate that skin picking shown by individuals with PWS is a particularly severe and intractable behavioral issue that may be maintained by (as yet unknown) sensory consequences. Further studies to identify the determinants of skin picking in PWS are therefore needed. The implications for interventions are discussed.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2013 · Research in developmental disabilities
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