Abstract # 2267 Event # 175:

Scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2007 09:15 AM-09:30 AM: Session 16 (North Main Hall E) Symposium


M. A. Novak1,2, M. D. Davenport2, C. K. Lutz3 and J. S. Meyer1
1Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9271, USA, 2New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, 1 Pine Hill Dr. Southborough MA 01772, 3Southwest National Primate Research Center, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, P.O. Box 760549, San Antonio, TX 78245
     Considerable progress has been made in the last decade in characterizing abnormal behavior and relating its presence to variations in early experience, health history and housing situations. The emergence of new techniques has permitted more sophisticated analysis of the behavioral and physiological variables that underlie behavioral disorders. These techniques include sophisticated video recording, remote telemetry units, and new measures of hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal activity. However, less is known about effective treatments for abnormal behavior, and there appear to be wide individual differences in response to the same treatment. We consider some of the issues that may make the identification of effective treatments difficult. Such issues include the following: Are abnormal behaviors symptoms or disorders? Can the same abnormal behavior arise in response to entirely different situations or physiological events or conversely can very different kinds of abnormal behavior develop under identical circumstances? Should we modify our focus on abnormal behaviors to include the functions that these behaviors serve? Several different functional hypotheses are characterized including the stimulation hypothesis, arousal reduction hypothesis, and habit hypothesis. Because abnormal behavior is highly idiosyncratic, a focus on function may help identify commonalities across different types of abnormal behavior and aid in developing effective treatments.