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FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM

an approach that satisfies
scientists and practitioners


unites biological, cognitive and
behavioural psychology
along with evolutionary
science in a way that

opens exciting directions in our
ability to understand how
people work and how to


help them.

Philosophy of science


why bother?

Pre
-
analytic

assumptions

explicit


owning them

Attempting to
eliminate incoherence in assumptions

Rules of evidence (or criteria for truth)


used to
create, assess, and evaluate knowledge claims
and theories



how otherwise to proceed effectively in science?

Coherence, less misunderstanding & pointless debate,
productive comparisons / theory evaluations

PROGRESSIVITY OF SCIENCE, BUILDING THE WORK

Functional Contextualism

A philosophy of science and variant of
contextualism that has as its primary goal the

prediction and influence of events with precision,
scope, and depth using

empirically based concepts and rules.

It seeks the construction of knowledge that is

general, abstract, and spatiotemporally
unrestricted, like a scientific principle
.


TRACING THE HISTORY


David HUME

1711
-
1776

Scottish philosopher


Empiricism, Skepticism, the Enlightenment


Hume and the problem of causation

The
Is

ought problem


Hume's treatment of the problem of causation is his
most distinctive and influential achievement, and

the most adequate general theory of causation yet
to appear in the literature


“brilliant and arguably the first behaviorist”

(Kelly Wilson, RFT Listserve 24.09.10)


Major influence on Darwin, Mach, Skinner...




A LEAP FORWARD


Ernst MACH

1838

1916 Austrian


Major contributions to physics, philosophy,

physiological psychology.

In physics, the speed of sound = Mach 1 etc

His

critique of Newtonian ideas

eg

of absolute space and time were

an inspiration to the young Einstein
,

who credited Mach as being

the

philosophical forerunner of relativity theory
.


“In speaking of cause and effect we arbitrarily


give relief to those elements to whose connection

we have to attend in the reproduction of a fact in

the respect in which it is important to us.”


“There is no cause nor effect in nature;

nature has but an individual existence;


nature simply is
.”






Mach and functional contextualism

A piece of knowledge is never false or true
-

but only more or less
biologically and evolutionary useful.
All dogmatic creeds are
approximations: these approximations form a humus from which better
approximations grow. (
Ernst Mach
, p97)

According to our conception, natural laws are a product of our psychological
need to feel at home with nature;
all concepts transcending sensation
are to be justified as helping us understand, control and predict our
environment
, and different conceptual systems may be used to this end in
different cultures and at different times with equal propriety.

A conceptual system is better if it is simple, comprehensive and free from
internal contradictions
; such a system is more useful to us and more
fruitful. But we must not be misled into saying that nature itself is simple,
economical and the like;
the difference between economical and
cumbersome conceptual systems is one of utility, not truth.
(p188)


Mach’s interest in psychology

The frequent excursions which I have made into this province have all
sprung from the profound conviction that
the foundations of science
as a whole, and of physics in particular, await their next greatest
elucidations from the side of biology, and especially, from the
analysis of the sensations.

[Mach in
Analysis of Sensations
: Preface]

Mach was a naturalist and a monist, as well as an anti
-
materialist in
the sense of being an anti
-
mechanist.

Naturalism ... nothing beyond nature, not even the organic or
mental, and evolution is thus generally a crucial component of it.
The materialism of the mechanical philosophy is the further view
that this nature consists of matter in motion, and in particular that
psychic phenomena can be reduced to matter in motion.

Whereas mechanistic materialism views nature as an organized
system of billiard balls, Mach's evolutionary perspective viewed
nature as a dynamic process.

Interbehaviorism



JR Kantor

1888
-
1984
-

interbehaviorism


Founded
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL RECORD

employing BF Skinner as Experimental Dept Editor


A prominent systematic psychologist
, organized
scientific values into a coherent system
of
psychology. From
the
interbehavioral

perspective
,

self
-
actional

causes, whether fictional
events (e.g.,
mentalism
)

or fictional powers attributed to
otherwise actual events
(brain as cause of behavior)
,
are anathema to science of psychology.


EG all reflection may be regarded as

an individual's conversation with himself = VB


“He’s always been there first.”

Jay Moore, The
Interbehaviorist
, 1987




JR Kantor


He’s always been there first



Jay Moore, The
Interbehaviorist

1987

Kantor (1938) begins:

It is the thesis of the present paper that the operational
principle first formulated for physics can with suitable
modification be employed to the psychologist's advantage
in clearing up many of his age
-
old problems. (p. 3)


Skinner (1945) writes:

The operational attitude, in spite of its shortcomings, is a
good thing in any science but especially in psychology
because of the presence there of a vast vocabulary of
ancient and non
-
scientific origin. (p. 271)


Revivalism in psychology


the
renaming of
prescientific

constructs

Solid Foundations


BF Skinner

1904


1990

Burrhus

Frederic Skinner


Founder of contextual behavioral science


The Behaviour of Organisms:


an Experimental Analysis 1938

Walden Two 1948 key papers
1945, 1950

Cumulative Record
... right through to

Recent Issues in the Analysis of Behavior
, 1989


"we may now take that more humble view

of explanation and causation which seems

to have been
first suggested by Mach
and is now

a common characteristic of scientific thought,

wherein, in a word, explanation is reduced to

description and the notion of function

is substituted for that of causation”




Philosophical clarification


Stephen C Pepper

1903


1972

World Hypotheses 1942
, ...





no data free from interpretation .


root metaphors necessary in epistemology

objectivity a myth ... no such thing as pure, objective fact

analysis is necessary to understand how to interpret 'facts.'

Pepper does so by developing the "[root metaphor method, ...] and outlines
what he considers to be

four basically adequate world hypotheses (world views or conceptual systems):

formism
, mechanism, contextualism, and
organicism
."


strengths and weaknesses of each world hypothesis as well as


paradoxical and sometimes mystifying effects of the effort to synthesize them

“his framework can prove very useful for revealing the
essential components, assumptions, and concerns of
different discourse communities.”
ACBS site


Refinement, extension
-

Steven C Hayes

b. 1948


“ACBS
-

What we are seeking is

the development of a coherent and progressive


contextual behavioral science that is more adequate

to the challenges of the human condition.”


Also Aaron Brownstein, Linda Hayes (nee Parrott)

Reece, Barnes
-
Holmes, Roche others within CBS


Prediction
-
and
-
influence,

with precision, scope and depth

Varieties of scientific contextualism

Nevada Conference of the Varieties of Scientific Contextualism

January 3


5 1992
-


Successful Working Is Our Truth Criteria




Correspondence
-
based Truth Criteria Must Be Rejected

Stephen Hayes, Linda Hayes, Hayne Reese, Theodore
Sarbin


Ch 1

Analytic Goals and the Varieties of Scientific Contextualism.

Stephen C Hayes.

Ch 2

Reality and Truth.






Linda J Hayes


Ch11

A Functional Contextualist Framework for Community Interventions.

Anthony Biglan


“I don’t really believe in cause.”
Steven C Hayes 2011

An explosion in a grain silo


behaviour therapist podcast

GIVEN THE GRAIN DUST, THE OXYGEN, THE SPARK = EXPLOSION

None “causes” the other, they just “are”... But...for pragmatic purposes...

Eg



welding assumes a vacuum



grain silo assumes no spark

For the purpose of Prediction and Influence we may call aspects stimuli,
aspect behavior, and look for functional relations

Holding a bar, letting go, falling


䙡汬F䅓A䱅吠䝏G


浥捨慮楳洠灲o扬敭

䉕B 數慭i湩湧n瑨攠獡浥 獩瑵慴楯渠


晵湣瑩t湡氠n敬慴楯湳i湯⁰牯 汥洡

Simplifying, clarifying. Kelly G Wilson

?
D.o.b
.... 195x


Some notes on theoretical constructs


The following are some key points and
underlying assumptions of our case:


1. Formulated constructs ought to be
continuous with the events within the field of
purported interest.



2. The ultimate validity of constructs is
reducible to the extent of improvement in
orientation to the field of interest they
provide (i.e., enhanced prediction and
control [with precision, scope and depth])








FC
phil

science geek


Kelly Wilson

3. Constructs ought not be confused with the crude events
with which the scientist interacts

4. Constructs are never attributed ontological validity as
result of any operational successes, rather they are
maintained as operationally valid. The extent of this
validity may be assessed according to the metric
described in proposition 2


(i.e. improvement in orientation to the field of interest


prediction and control with precision, scope and depth).

5. Divergence from the above will at best be superfluous
and at worst will draw the investigator’s efforts in
directions unfruitful to the advancement of a given field


Types and characteristics of theoretical
constructs


Kelly Wilson, Some notes…

Some notes on theory. Wilson 2001

What I propose is an approach to theorizing that is consistent
with the expected effects of selection by consequences.

I have argued against theories that appeal to events outside
observations and operations, because of their inherent
isolation from the selective effects of experimentation.

I propose that science in general, and psychology in particular,
will be best advanced by a rich interplay of theorizing and
experimentation.

The sort of theory suggested is expected to maximize these
selective effects.

FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM
-

Niklas
Torneke

Functional

Contextualism

-

the

application

of

fundamental

behavioristic

principles

in

a

consistent,

all
-
inclusive

way
.


Eg

Operant

conditioning

-

our

actions

are

influenced

by

the

consequences

we

have

previously

encountered
.


If

consistent,

this

holds

for

me

as

a

scientist
.

I

do

what

I

do

in

an

experiment

as

a

consequence

of

outcomes

of

similar

experimentation

earlier

(along

with

other

contingencies)
.

I

approach

my

subject

matter

in

an

overall

stance

which

is

the

functional

‘product’

of

previous

+

present

contingencies
.

Rp
.


BF Skinner


About
Behaviorism

It would be absurd for the
behaviorist to contend that he is
in any way exempt from his
analysis. He cannot step outside
of the causal stream and observe
behavior from some special point
of vantage, “perched on the
epicycle of Mercury.”

In the very act of
analyzing

human
behavior he is behaving. (1974)


Cumulative Record...

AONTOLOGICAL, MONISTIC
Torneke

As

a

scientist

(behaving

organism),

I

am

not

outside

or

above

the

principles

I

study
.

Applied

consistently,

all

claims

of

representing

the

ontological

truth

have

to

be

dropped
.


We

cannot

maintain

that

“this

is

the

way

it

really

is
.


FC’ists

(are

disinterested

in

statements

about

reality,

and)

repudiate

the

notion

that

the

scientist

operates

from

an

objective

and

neutral

position
.


You

cannot

understand

behavior

without

studying

its

context
.

All

behavior

takes

place

within

a

context
.

But

neither

can

the

context

be

studied

independent

of

behavior
.


This

means

for

all

science

chosen

values

are

fundamental
.

It

is

possible

to

apply

these

basic

positions

of

functional

contextual

science

in

the

strategic

approach

to

the

relationship

between

the

structure

of

organisms

and

their

behaviour
.

And

it

must

be

with

a

purpose
.

For the functional contextualist,
biological events are not biological

Physiological events may be incorporated into a science of behaviour
not as physiological offence per se, but as behavioural events.

Dermot Barnes Holmes 2003

On the other hand, the behaviour of physiologists in identifying strictly
physiological relations may also be analysed as behaviour
.

Physiology implies changes over time within the structure and function of
a living organism, and therefore can be analysed within a functional
contextual framework. If this is not done, then the goals and aims of
the behaving scientist are overlooked.

This is frequently the case, and the goals and aims are generally
mechanistic, reductionist and increasingly unhappily commercial.



Assumptions, coherence, effectiveness

Elemental realist

neuroscience

Structure and
Function relations =
FC Neuroscience

Emotions, Motivation

Memory, Hallucinations

i.e. but… the “realness” of drugs,
neurotransmitters etc ???

Scientific laws (and statements about observed
phenomena
including drugs, fMRI’s, neurones
) ...

specify or imply responses and consequences
.

They are not ... obeyed by nature but…

… by men that deal effectively with nature.

The formula s = 1/2 gt2 does not govern the behavior
of falling bodies…

… it governs those who correctly predict the position
of falling bodies at given times.

(BF Skinner, 1969, p. 141)

Can we talk ontologically workably, and


not slip into ontological mechanism?

1.
Languaging “depression” / “SSRI” / “fMRI finding
of
enhanced dorsolateral medial cortex activity”
can be

continuous with observed
client / client
-
clinician behavior/
verbal response / scientist
response to instrument output

2.
Saying “SSRI” etc may enhance precision, scope and depth
of analysing contextually
client verbal response/ effective
scientist
behavior to instrument output
and

applicability

to
other client behavior/experiments/aspects of experiment
and

other fields of interest


i.e. success in workability



Can we talk ontologically workably, and


not slip into ontological mechanism?

3.
Naming “SSRI”

ought not be confused with the crude
constructs

with which the clinician/ scientist is interacting
i.e. client, clinician or scientist behavior in a context

4.
“depression” / “SSRI” / “fMRI finding” need not be given
ontological validity
,
rather only effectiveness validity
,
i.e.
improving prediction and influence of client / clinician /
scientist behavior with precision, scope and depth

5.
Divergence from the above will be superfluous or
harmfully distracting….



SEE ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC… the
failure

of DSM
… of
neurochemical theories… the mainstream psychiatric field

Hank Robb


Listserve
25 Sept 2010

“Life is between the trapeze bars”

The problem is a non
-
unitary assumption.

You can't really "prove" the non
-
dualistic approach except to
point out all the messes and dead ends you end up with
not

taking it

-

"Maybe so," agree the dualists…

"But that is just how things are! The problems that flow from dualism are

just too bad and it's just
HOW THINGS ARE
!”

From a functional contextualist view, in the end, there's nothing
ontologically that you can "hang on to."


Life (and science) is an "act of faith up in the air”



how it
works for a chosen purpose


Pragmatism or “Realism”


a choice


Monistic/holistic


Contextualistic


Humility of only ever considering the work
as something of use for a chosen purpose


i.e.
truth

is specifically defined as the
usefulness

regarding prediction and
influence, with precision, scope and depth


Treatment / intervention utility of the
strategy is
built in

to every aspect of the
work; philosophy / basic science / clinical


Values must guide the scientific approach


Dualistic/pluralistic


Mechanistic, non
-
contextualistic


Nobility of discovery of the reality of the
way the universe is truly constructed


i.e.
truth

being assumed to be what things
are
really like
, an ever more accurate
correspondence to the reality of things


Treatment / intervention utility of the
strategy is
a separate matter entirely

requiring a subsequent research program


Values not needed


this IS how things ARE

Integrating

Psychological

/
Neurobiological

Levels

in
Contextual

Behavioral Science

The Psychological Level


The study of whole organisms acting in and with a
context considered historically and situationally

The Neurobiological Level


The study of the nervous system of organisms in
reaction to external and internal events and in
relation to behavior


1953


199?


Harvard Psychobiology Laboratory


Emphasis on behavior

and the variables of which it was a function

as these contributed to and

clarified our understanding

of the behavioral effects of drugs.


Appreciation of and emphasis on behavior

as more than a passive transmitter of

drug action crucial to the evolution of the field


Sophisticated understanding of both

behavioral processes and

pharmacological principles,

coupled with forcefulness and

inspirational aspects of writing


AN OUTSIDER ON THE INSIDE


P B Dews

Peter Dews 1964
Humors


Proceedings of
Americal

Philosophical Society
-

Psychology: A Behavioral Reinterpretation

In principle, a behavioral reinterpretation of psychology shows the
way to a reconciliation and ultimate union of
psychopharmacology and neuropharmacology.

Behavioral psychology must insist on operational definitions and
objective measurements. The resulting rigor will permeate
psychopharmacology.

Meanwhile, the pseudopsychological variables of some
neuropharmacologists can be supplanted by carefully defined and
measured attributes of behavior.

Psychopharmacology and neuropharmacology thus become
compatible parts of biological science.


Integrating psychological and neurobiological
in CBS


in ACT / BA / FAP clinical practice

The dangers of moving across levels without care:

1.
Hiding ignorance “mindfulness” at one level of analysis in
‘concrete knowledge’ at other levels of analysis


“we ‘know’
what this scan / chemical etc is / does / means”

2.
The appeal of reductionism


“that’s ‘why’ it changes behavior”

The possibilities of research / clinical behavior across levels of
analysis:

1.
Seeing / acting clinically on consistent processes


2.
An integrated fabric of science and clinician practice

The Vision of Contextual Neuroscience

= the vision of behavioral pharmacology

Place neurobiological evidence inside a larger effort

understanding situated actions of whole organisms,

focusing on the depth of psychological processes
known to be important

Including especially transformative human verbal
processes,
i.e. arbitrarily applicable derived
relational responding


剆R

= leaving the animal lab for FC
neuro

/
pharma

???


Learning and language

Mecca
Chiesa

identifying a slippery problem

Language of learning is often grounded in metaphors of storage and
retrieval, informing cognitive or information
-
processing traditions.

“Processing information is, of course, something people have done for
thousands of years. .... Cognitive scientists have taken this practice as a
model or metaphor” BF Skinner, 1985

The scientist is directed toward a stimulus


organism


response (S


O


R)
account: but “when physical records are stored, the records exist until
they are retrieved,
but is that true when people ‘process information’?
” BF
Skinner 1985.

A storage battery might be a better metaphor to guide psychology.
Electricity is put into a battery that is not stored there. Rather the
battery is changed, and it is changed battery that puts out electricity.


Relevance to FC neuroscience

An organism is changed by its exposure to contingencies of reinforcement,
and it is a changed organisms that emits behaviour.

“Organisms do not acquire behaviour as a kind of possession: they simply
come to behave in various ways. The behaviour is not ‘in them’ at any time.”

“How organisms are changed by contingencies of reinforcement is the field of
a behavioural analysis. What is happening inside is a question to be
answered by neurology, with appropriate instruments and methods”

BF Skinner 1985

The purpose of answering questions in neuroscience must be critically
examined. The behaviour of the scientist is not outside the behavioural
stream.
The values and purposes which are guiding their science directs
the outcomes of that science and the ways in which it is used

Some Thoughts on the Relation between

Behaviour Analysis and Behavioural Neuroscience.

Jay Moore, The Psychological Record 2002


Resolving the problem of reductionism

The
complementarity

of behaviour analysis
and functional contextual neuroscience I

The
complementarity

of behaviour analysis
and functional contextual neuroscience II

Propadeutic = Providing introductory instruction

Problems with ordinary language and science


Mecca
Chiesa

cont...

Ordinary verbal behaviour precede scientific verbal behaviour, and
ordinary language terms provide ready
-
made conceptual classifications
that guide and direct the scientific investigation of behaviour.

Our everyday language contains
prescientific

assumptions and
classifications that may or may not be useful for a scientific analysis of
behaviour.

We consider it unwise to adopt ordinary language terms uncritically noting
that those terms themselves can influence the behaviour of scientists
and may bring with them unnecessary problems.

Analysis of the relation between ordinary language and science is an
important part of the strategy of functional contextualism.

Problems with ordinary language and science

Analysis of the relation between ordinary language and science is an
important part of the strategy of functional contextualism.

For instance Fletcher’s and Hayes article " Searching for Mindfulness in
the Brain” looks closely at precise behavioural definition of the term
mindfulness
... “defined not merely by self
-
reports of subjective state but
rather by what people do (in each of 4 clinically relevant processes)”

“Rather than saddling neurobiology alone with the task of substituting for an
adequate psychological account, the neurobiological evidence built on
studying these processes will rest on relatively solid psychological ground.

Thus, such neurobiological evidence will examine the precision, scope,
and especially the depth of these concepts across levels of analysis.


We hope that this analysis will lead to a progressive multidisciplinary
program of research that builds on the many advances that have
already been made in both of these fields.”




Precision, scope and DEPTH in 2011

In conducting direct study of the relations between behaviour and
neuronal events, or environmental influences on neuronal events, any
theorising about relations ought to occur in the context of direct
experimental interactions with events about which one is theorising.

That is, theorising about neurology ought to involve direct interaction
with neuronal events. This level of scientific analysis of neuronal events
in their relationship to behaviour is now possible.

Mike Schlund et al, "
Human avoidance and approach learning: Evidence for
overlapping neural systems and experiential avoidance modulation of
avoidance neurocircuitry
." Behavioural Brain Research 2011.

This paper is an outstanding example wherein the fundamental tenets of
functional contextualism are entirely adhered with, inside important,
basic FC neuroscientific research.


Precision, scope and DEPTH
-

the future

Language is critical. For instance, "Advances in our understanding of the
brain mechanisms
supporting

human approach learning under positive
reinforcement have motivated complementary research on the brain
mechanisms
supporting

human avoidance learning and learned
avoidance under negative reinforcement.“ Schlund et al, BBS 2011

Cf

underlying mechanisms, mental illness ...a disorder of brain circuitry

The behaviour analyst 1
st

author of the above Mike Schlund is 2
nd

author
of a basic experimental Relational Frame Theory article appearing this
same month in Behaviour Research and Therapy. “
Inferred threat and
safety: Symbolic generalisation of human avoidance learning“

Making significant contributions at different levels of analysis in relation
to the same event field, the examination of the behaviour of a whole
organism in relation to its situational and historical context



the fruit of functional contextualism.

SIMILAR DIRECTIONS
from non FC researchers

Adult
neurogenesis
: Optimizing
hippocampal

function to suit the
environment
Glasper

at al, Behavioural and Brain Sciences 2011.


... proposes adaptive significance to experience
-
dependent alterations
in new neuron formation... the modulation of adult
neurogenesis
, as
well as the associated microcircuitry by experience prepares the
hippocampus to meet the specific demands of an environment that
is predictably similar to one that existed previously.

Reduced
neurogenesis

that occurs with persistent exposure to a high
threat environment produces a hippocampus that is more likely to
respond with behavior that maximizes the chance of survival.

Enhanced
neurogenesis

that occurs with continual exposure to a
rewarding environment leads to behavior that optimizes the
chances of successful reproduction.

The persistence of this form of plasticity throughout adulthood may
provide the neural substrate for adaptive responding to both stable
and dynamic environmental conditions.

FUNCTIONAL CONTEXTUALISM

an approach that satisfies
scientists and practitioners


unites biological, cognitive and
behavioural psychology
along with evolutionary
science in a way that

opens exciting directions in our
ability to understand how
people work and how to


help them.