By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Founding Editor, bSci21.org
As a practicing behavior analyst, have you ever been”stuck” trying to think of specific target or replacement behaviors or, more importantly, how to accurately measure them? A major new interdisciplinary project that is part of the National Institutes of Health’s Big Data to Knowledge initiative might give you the solution you have been waiting for.
The American Psychological Association recently announced a $10.8 million grant to gather behavioral and physiological data from wearable sensors. The project has a focus on behavioral health, and provides measures of bodily motions (e.g., smoking), or “whether, say, a heart-disease patient is approaching a doughnut shop, or an ex-smoker is heading toward a bench where co-workers are lighting up cigarettes.”
The devices will then provide feedback to the user and health-care providers on when and where certain health behaviors are likely to occur. The device could, for example, provide a warning message that the user is likely to light up a cigarette in the near future and serve as a preventative prompting system to reduce smoking.
The measurement of physiological data, bodily movements, and geographical location, combined with predictive feedback, could infuse Applied Behavior Analysis with a whole new host of possible intervention targets that were never even conceivable before. A new era is on the horizon.
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