Presentation on theme: "The Measurement of Behavior: Linchpin to Progress in Behavioral and Bio-Behavioral Research Steven F. Warren, Ph.D. Institute for Life Span Sciences University."— Presentation transcript:
The Measurement of Behavior: Linchpin to Progress in Behavioral and Bio-Behavioral Research Steven F. Warren, Ph.D. Institute for Life Span Sciences University of Kansas March 15, 2007
Presentation Outline The central role of measurement in scientific advancement The measurement of human behavior: good news, bad news, good news The measurement of animal behavior: good news, bad news, etc Prospects for our bio-behavioral future
The Fundamental Role of Measurement in Science Measurement capabilities shape research and determine what discoveries are made Some old examples of measurement breakthroughs: the telescope, the microscope. Some recent examples: the gene chip, brain imaging technologies.
Rapid scientific advances typically follow breakthroughs in measurement technologies
Some Good News Breakthroughs in genetics and neuroscience are making behavioral research MORE important. Genetic/biological factors account for only a fraction of the variance in human behavor. The emergence of the new fields of behavioral genetics and the behavioral and cognitive neurosciences reflect this
Some Bad News Measuring human behavior is generally labor-intensive, tedious, and expensive Progress in behavioral science has been slowed by the lack of advances in measurement while just the opposite has occurred in the biological sciences
Some More Good News Things are changing in the behavioral sciences!
LENA The world’s first automatic natural language analysis system A transformational behavioral measurement technology The door to a new generation of behavioral and bio-behavioral research
What LENA does: Captures every utterance between parent and child Measures adult-child turntaking Can count and analyze up to 20,000 words in a day Compares adult-child samples to a database of 18,000 hours of adult-child interaction (and growing)
LENA Technical Accomplishments Uses advanced speech recognition technology and algorithims Mean per hour error rate in of 2.4 % compared to human transcribers Discerns near and far speech, filters out child crying/vegatative sounds as well as TV and radio
Some questions for LENA What are the cumulative effects of language rich/poor environments? How does the “richness” of the environment interact with various disorders or genetic propensities cumulatively to impact development? How easily can environments be enriched/modified? And on, and on, and on….
Other examples Measuring “consumer” behavior via the web. (Measuring behavior has become a big business). The convergence of global positioning, biosensors, and wireless technologies Measuring growth instantly and changing intervention goals accordingly
The Brave New World Concern Our increasing ability to measure human behavior may lay the foundation for scientific breakthroughs, but…. It also raises concerns about violations of various civil rights. How will IRB’s constrain or shape what can be done with these technologies?
The measurement of animal behavior The Good News: Advances in knock-out and transgenic technologies have made the measurement of behavior a central concern for many biolological scientists The Bad News: Most biological scientists have little knowledge and even less training in how to measure behavior.
Possible Solutions Add behavioral training to the pedagogy of biologist Train and support a relatively small number of biobehavioral measurement specialists to help biologists design and use appropriate behavioral measures
A “Good News” Outcome Knowledge of the effects of genetic manipulations increases more rapidly due to the infusion of behavioral measurement expertise
Prospects for Bio-behavioral Science Advances in genetics and neuroscience have made behavioral science more important, not less Advances in behavioral measurement may revolutionize behavioral science Convergence of behavioral and biological measurements will accelerate bio- behavioral science
“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” Helen Keller