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Psychology | The Behavior Analyst

Perspectives on Behavior Science

Perspectives on Behavior Science

An Official Journal of the Association for Behavior Analysis International

Editor-in-Chief: Donald Hantula

ISSN: 2520-8969 (print version)
ISSN: 2520-8977 (electronic version)

Journal no. 40614

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Brain not required special issue

A Special issue of The Behavior Analyst 

Learning: No Brain Required

Laboratory research in behavior analysis is heavily concentrated toward mammalian (e.g., rats, primates) and avian (i.e., pigeon) species. That is, our body of work has been conducted with species with a more developed central nervous system, including a spinal cord and some approximation of brain (e.g., at least rudimentary cortical areas). It is estimated, however, that over 95% of the earth’s species are invertebrates (Lewbart, 2006) and have evolved without spinal cords or more complex cortical areas. This biodiversity of invertebrate species suggests that the behavioral processes they possess have been fundamentally important to their survival.
In other disciplines, such as behavioral neuroscience, invertebrates have been used in “simple-systems” approaches-- to isolate specific neurons or ganglia involved in learning processes (see Carew & Sahley, 1986). These species have been critically important to assisting our understanding of the basic processes of sensitization, habituation, classical conditioning, and operant conditioning at both the behavioral and neural levels. The pivotal work of Eric Kandel with Aplysia is a solid example (e.g., Carew, Hawkins, & Kandel, 1983; Kandel & Schwartz, 1982; Walters, Carew, & Kandel, 1981). In addition, these types of species have been used to reduce even more complex types of stimulus control, such as those involved in memory and cognition, to a more simple level (see Darmaillacq, Dickel, & Mather, 2014, for example).
The Behavior Analyst welcomes manuscript submissions for the special issue on Learning: No Brain Required. We invite submissions on aspects of simple to more complex types of learning with invertebrates or procedures that reduce the influence of the central nervous system (CNS) on learning. Topics may include, but are not limited to the following:
• Review or conceptual articles using invertebrate species or those without a CNS, i.e., brain and spinal cord. Invertebrate species may include sponges, jellyfish, worms, mollusks, arthropods, and other simpler-celled invertebrates.
• Articles on learning in single-celled organisms (e.g., protists or slime molds)
• Primers of procedures on vertebrate species in which learning mechanisms with the CNS are isolated with special procedures (e.g., spinal cord transections)
• Review or conceptual articles on spinal learning
• Reanalysis of published data with the above-listed types of species or procedures
Consistent with the journal’s mission, we are seeking theoretical, review, methodological and experimental articles, rather than primary empirical articles. “Research stories”, in which unexpected developments in the laboratory produce a novel or interesting finding are also welcome, but should include sufficient methodological detail and data.
• To receive consideration, papers must be submitted no later than May 1, 2018 via the journal's online system at https://www.editorialmanager.com/tbha/default.aspx and should be flagged for the special section on Learning: No Brain Required by using the Article Type pull-down menu in the journal's online portal.
• Papers should be approximately 20 manuscript pages (excluding tables, figures and references) and conform in all ways to the requirements for submissions to The Behavior Analyst as described in the online system. It is recommended that papers be professionally proofread prior to submission.


Carew, T. J., Hawkins, R. D., & Kandel, E. R. (1983). Differential classical conditioning of a defensive withdrawal reflex in Aplysia californica. Science, 219(4583), 397-400.
Carew, T. J., & Sahley, C. L. (1986). Invertebrate learning and memory: from behavior to molecules. Annual review of neuroscience, 9(1), 435-487.
Darmaillacq, A. S., Dickel, L., & Mather, J. (Eds.). (2014). Cephalopod cognition. Cambridge University Press.
Kandel, E. R., & Schwartz, J. H. (1982). Molecular biology of learning: modulation of transmitter release. Science, 218(4571), 433-443.
Lewbart, G.A. (2006). Invertebrate medicine. Blackwell: Ames, IA.
Walters, E. T., Carew, T. J., & Kandel, E. R. (1981). Associative learning in Aplysia: Evidence for conditioned fear in an invertebrate. Science, 211(4481), 504-506.

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    The Behavior Analyst is an official publication of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. It is published twice annually, and in addition to its articles on theoretical, experimental, and applied topics in behavior analysis, this journal also includes literature reviews, re-interpretations of published data, and articles on behaviorism as a philosophy.
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