Translational Behavior Analysis: From Laboratory Science in Stimulus Control to Intervention with Persons with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

UMMS Affiliation

Shriver Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Translational Research; Behavioral Research; Developmental Disabilities


Mental and Social Health | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry and Psychology


Throughout its history, laboratory research in the experimental analysis of behavior has been successful in elucidating and clarifying basic learning principles and processes in both humans and nonhumans. In parallel, applied behavior analysis has shown how fundamental behavior-analytic principles and procedures can be employed to promote desirable forms of behavior and to prevent or ameliorate undesirable forms in clinical, educational, and other settings. Less obviously, there has also emerged a small but identifiable bridging field that can potentially connect and inform both basic and applied behavior analysis. Although such translational behavior analysis uses laboratory methodologies, research targets are selected largely for their value in ultimate application to improve the human condition. I will discuss the distinction of translational behavior analysis from basic and applied behavior analysis and consider the potential contribution that translational research can make in the development of the science of behavior. (Contains 2 figures.)


McIlvane, W. J. (2009). Translational behavior analysis: From laboratory science in stimulus control to intervention with persons with neurodevelopmental disabilities. The Behavior Analyst, 32, 273-280.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Behavior Analyst