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- ItemVisceral learning as concept identification(Blackwell Publishing, 1980-05) Roberts, Larry E.; Williams, Robert J.; Farrell, V. T.; Keleher, B.; Marlin, Richard G.Visceral learning may be depicted as a process in which subjects seek information about the behavioral goal. Concepts of this goal are based initially upon procedural details of training and are modified as feedback identifies instances of the target response. This approach was assessed by determining whether subjects were capable of describing activities associated with the visceral target after feedback training. Two groups were given visual feedback for changes in heart rate (HR) or lateralized skin conductance (LSC). The two visceral targets within each group (HR: inc/dec; LSC: L>R/R>L) were designated as Response A and Response B. Production of the response on A and B trials in the presence (Training) and absence (Transfer) of feedback was measured. After a one-hour session subjects were asked, without prior notification, to provide written reports describing what they did to control feedback on A and B trials. Awareness of the response was assessed by determining whether judges given the reports successfully identified the visceral target which was required on A and B trials for each subject. Awareness of activities related to feedback was also assessed by quantitative scales completed by the subjects after the written report. Awareness of the response was demonstrated on identification tasks for each experimental condition (HR and LSC). Furthermore, awareness (measured as probability ofcorrect identification) was significantly correlated with performance during Training and Transfer in the HR oroup, but this relationship was obtained only for Transfer in the LSC condition. Transfer without awareness was not observed in either group. Scale ratings did not differ between the visceral targets in either training condition. However, awareness was confirmed by significant correlations between these ratings and visceral performance for Training and Transfer in the HR group and for Transfer in the LSC group. These findings suggest that veridical concepts of the behavioral goal are formed during visceral learning. The concept-formation process appears important to Transfer but does not fully explain performance on feedback trials in the LSC experiment. (Supported by A0132 from NSERC of Canada)
- ItemA problem solving approach to visceral learning(1981) Roberts, Larry E.; Williams, Robert J.; Marlin, Richard G.An earlier paper in this series depicted visceral learning as a problem in concept identification in which subjects seek information about the visceral target (Roberts, Williams, Farrell, & Marlin. 1979). Concepts pertaining to this target are based initially upon procedural details of training and are modified as feedback identifies instances of the desired response. Evidence for this view was sought by examining verbal reports for the information about target responding that is presumably the product of a concept identification process. Accurate self-report was observed when subjects were successfully trained to produce either: 1) an increase and decrease in heart rate, or 2) lateralized changes (L > R and R> L) in skin conductance. Control of the response in the absence of accurate self-report was not observed in either training condition. The present paper describes an extended framework for the study of learning mechanisms. In this approach, a task statement is assumed to establish a problem space within which visceral learning proceeds. Major components of this space include: 1) a representation of task objectives. 2) initial concepts concerning effective strategies derived from the task statement and the subject's personal history, and 3) a processing system which is organized to acquire information about the response from feedback events. The processing system is seen as a construction which is determined uniquely for each learning procedure by processing requirements that are implicit in problem structure. The system organizes memory to receive information about the response and codes this information in a manner appropriate for production of the target in accordance with performance requirements of the task. This analysis suggested that within-subject training for two visceral targets with a transfer requirement (as in Roberts et al., 1979) might have favored identification of differences rather than similarities between the targets and encoding in a manner appropriate for recall without feedback as a retrieval cue. Consequently accurate self-report was assessed as a function of forewarning of transfer when subjects were trained to produce a single target alone. The purpose was to determine whether a problem-solving approach might identify processing conditions that favor veridical self-report following training on a feedback task. (Supported by A0132 from NSERC of Canada)
- ItemVisceral learning as problem solving(North Holland, 1982) Roberts, Larry E.; Marlin, Richard G.; Keleher, B.; Williams, Robert J.One purpose of this paper is to describe some experiments that have examined what subjects learn about a visceral target as a consequence of training on a feedback task. Initially this research was undertaken to explore the proposition (implicit in Brcner, 1974a) that control of the viscera is possible only when subjects have learned to recognize events associated with the production of target behavior. Subsequent efforts to explain current findings have led us to employ a tentative theoretical framework for the study of learning mechanisms that bears greater resemblance to analyses of human problem solving than to motor skills and other models that currently dominate the visceral learning literature (Schwartz and Beatty, 1977). A second purpose of this paper is to briefly describe this framework.
- ItemAwareness of the Response After Feedback Training for Changes in Heart Rate and Sudomotor Laterality(American Psychological Association, 1984) Roberts, Larry E.; Williams, Robert J.; Marlin, Richard G.; Farrell, Therese; Imiolo, DanielWhat is the relation between (a) the ability to control visceral responding on a biofeedback task and (b) the ability to report behaviors actually contributing to this performance? Subjects received biofeedback training for unidentified visceral responses and then gave written reports about what they had done to control the feedback displays. Independent judges were given these reports and, on the basis of knowledge about activities known to contribute to visceral activity, were asked to determine the visceral responses for which the subjects had been trained. The reports of subjects who succeeded at bidirectional control of heart rate (Experiment 1) or sudomotor laterality (Experiment 2) showed awareness of behaviors related to feedback as assessed by this procedure, whereas the reports of subjects who failed at bidirectional control did not. Subsequent experiments indicated that these results did not depend on a learning strategy that might have been specific to the initial studies. These findings call into question the view that people are unaware of what they have done to produce the response after training on biofeedback tasks. Earlier studies reporting lack of awareness in biofeedback are discussed in light of factors that affect the measurement of biofeedback learning and response awareness.
- ItemRelation of Learned Heart Rate Control to Self-Report in Different Task Environments(Blackwell Publishing, 1988) Williams, Robert J.; Roberts, Larry E.A widely-expressed view based on early studies of the verbal report in biofeedback holds that response awareness is unnecessary for learned control of visceral responding. However, more recent evidence has questioned this view. This article reports two experiments that analyzed verbal reports with the methods of recent studies while examining procedural differences between early and recent research. Experiment 1 assessed the effects of bidirectional versus unidirectional training on heart rate control and self-report. Experiment 2 examined heart rate control and self-report in two task environments that differed with regard to whether somatomotor action was afforded or allowed. No instances of response learning without response awareness were observed in either experiment, even when task environments approximating those of the early biofeedhack studies were used. The results support viewpoints of biofeedback that assign a role to response awareness in the development of instructed control.
- ItemHuman sex ratio as it relates to caloric availability(Society for the Study of Social Biology, 1992) Williams, Robert J.; Gloster, Susan P.The relationship between human sex ratios at birth and caloric availability per capita was examined across different countries. Significant positive correlations were obtained between the amount of food a country had available and the percentage of male births. Furthermore, increases or decreases in a country's caloric availability were related to corresponding changes in that country's sex ratio. These results provide evidence of adaptive sex ratio biasing in humans. The physiological mechanism by which this effect operates is probably higher mortality rates for male embryos and fetuses as a result of nutritional deficiencies and associated stressors.
- ItemFrequency of seasonal affective disorder among individuals seeking treatment at a northern Canadian mental health centre(Elsevier, 1993) Williams, Robert J.; Schmidt, Glen G.The frequency of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was examined in clients receiving treatment for recurrent mood disturbances in a northern Canadian site. Approximately one-fifth of these individuals were identified as having SAD using file histories and a statistical criterion as the basis for assessment. The failure to find a higher prevalence rate at this latitude may be due to other studies' reliance on client self-report, a tendency for individuals with SAD to relocate south, or a greater tendency for SAD to be seen by general practitioners and alcohol treatment centres in the north.
- ItemThe Role of Psychological Tests in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome(Fernwood Publishing, 1999) Williams, Robert J.The assessment of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is made when there is evidence of alcohol use during pregnancy; growth deficiencies; characteristic facial features; and central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction. Psychological tests have two main roles with respect to FAS. The first is helping in the assessment of CNS dysfunction through the use of tests that measure a child's functional capabilities. Functional skill assessment is particularly useful for FAE because CNS impairment can and usually does occur in the absence of growth, physical or facial abnormalities (Clarren, Bowden, & Astley 1985). The second main role of psychological tests is in helping identify the person's pattern of strengths and weaknesses for treatment planning and prognosis. Both of these roles will be described in the following sections.
- ItemBooking clients for addiction treatment: What works best?(Canadian Nurses Association, 1999-04) Davis, Mary E.; Williams, Robert J.; Goodale, Leslie A.A final investigation attempted to determine whether the somewhat lower show-up rates after the Engaged intake could be a result of this procedure actually being therapeutic, thus decreasing the person's distress and need for treatment. This possibility was investigated by examining clinician ratings of the severity of the person's alcohol problems, drug problems and psychological problems when they came in for their assessment.
- ItemIncidence of fetal alcohol syndrome in northeastern Manitoba(Canadian Journal of Public Health, 1999-05) Williams, Robert J.; Odaibo, Felix S.; McGee, Janet M.The incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in northeastern Manitoba was investigated by examining all 745 live births occurring in Thompson General Hospital in 1994. Birth records were screened with criteria designed to capture all potential FAS cases. Cases were then eliminated if follow-up records indicated the child was not developmentally delayed or no longer had the small head or body size identified at birth. Cases still meeting criteria were personally examined. Five cases of FAS were identified among the 46% of eligible children screened at age 2, roughly an incidence of 7.2/ 1,000. However, because only 46% of the high risk cases were personally examined, incidence could be as high as 14.8/ 1,000. Only 1/5 FAS cases had been identified prior to our investigation. The results indicate the incidence of FAS in northeastern Manitoba is very high and that much greater effort needs to be made in its prevention and early detection.
- ItemKnowledge of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) among Natives in Northern Manitoba(Rutgers University, 1999-11) Williams, Robert J.; Gloster, Susan P.Objective: To investigate knowledge about fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) among Natives in northern Manitoba. A second objective was to determine if there are age or gender differences in level of knowledge. A third objective was to examine the relationship between knowledge about FAS and reported frequency of drug and alcohol use during pregnancy. Method: A nonrandom sample of 466 Natives from northern Manitoba was interviewed about drug and alcohol use during pregnancy and knowledge of FAS. The sample was proportionately representative of the 26 northern reserves, with an approximately equal number of male and female subjects ranging in age from 13 to 71 years. Results: Northern Manitoban Natives have lower levels of FAS knowledge than the general public. Of this sample, 80% believed drinking alcohol could adversely affect the unborn baby and 36% had heard of FAS, compared to 90% and 64%, respectively, in the general U.S. population. Natives in their 20s and 30s were more knowledgeable than Natives in their 50s and 60s. Females tended to be more knowledgeable than males. Drug and alcohol use during pregnancy is high (51% of women report drinking during one or more pregnancies) and the relationship between FAS knowledge and drug use during pregnancy appears weak. Young people were the most knowledgeable about FAS but also the most likely to report having used drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. Conclusions: The low levels of knowledge about FAS among the Native population supports the need for continued education. However, the results also suggest that education by itself may be insufficient to make dramatic changes in behavior. (J. Stud. Alcohol 60: 833-836, 1999)
- ItemA Comprehensive and Comparative Review of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Outcome(Blackwell Publishing, 2000) Williams, Robert J.; Chang, Samuel Y.There are relatively few studies on adolescent substance abuse treatment. The ones that exist tend to be methodologically weak. Methodologically stronger studies have usually found most adolescents receiving treatment to have significant reductions in substance use and problems in other life areas in the year following treatment. Average rate of sustained abstinence after treatment is 38% (range 30-55) at 6 months and 32% at 12 months (range 14-47). Variables most consistently related to successful outcome are treatment completion, low pre-treatment substance use, and peer/parent social support/nonuse of substances. There is evidence that treatment is superior to no treatment, but insufficient evidence to compare the effectiveness of treatment types. The exception to this is that outpatient family therapy appears superior to other forms of outpatient treatment.
- ItemCasino Self-Exclusion Programmes: A Review of the Issues(Taylor & Francis, 2002) Nowatzki, Nadine R.; Williams, Robert J.Casino self-exclusion is a procedure by which individuals can have themselves banned from entering a casino. One of the purposes of this paper is to present information about the availability and features of these programmes. A second purpose is to make recommendations about how to best operate them based on cross-jurisdictional analysis and lessons from the addiction literature. The first section of the paper describes the typical casino self-exclusion programme, outlining the features common to most policies. The second section provides a detailed overview of the programmes operating in Canada in order to give the reader an appreciation of the procedural variations that exist. The third section discusses the effectiveness of self-exclusion programmes. Finally, the fourth section contains recommendations on ways to improve effectiveness. When properly implemented, self-exclusion can be a valuable tool in helping to curb problem gambling.
- ItemPsychological Intervention for Adolescent Substance Abuse(Routledge, 2002) Williams, Robert J.Most adolescent substance abusers neither seek out nor receive formal treatment for their substance abuse. Despite this, most adolescent substance abusers eventually curb their substance use by their mid to late 20’s (Fillmore, 1988; Kandel and Raveis, 1989; Labouvie, 1996; Pape and Hammer, 1996). One explanation for this concerns the nature of the teenage years that encourages experimentation with a wide variety of behaviours, including substance use. This need for rebellion and experimentation is not as strong for someone in their late 20’s. Another explanation concerns the process of ‘‘natural recovery’’, where individuals simply identify and rectify their problems themselves (Burman, 1997; Granfield & Cloud, 1999). Sometimes overlooked are the ‘‘interventions’’ contributing to this phenomenon. Environmental pressures are usually involved when people decide to make important changes in their life. There are pervasive influences operating in the environments of almost all adolescent substance abusers discouraging substance use. Anti-drug messages are prevalent in the media, in school, and often in family and peer contexts. The problems that sometimes occur because of substance use (parental conflict, peer conflict, school problems, physical sequelae, employment consequences) provide further inducement for change. The new roles that develop in the mid to late 20’s (jobs, marriage, parenting) are other things that tend to conflict with continued substance use (Kandel and Raveis, 1989; Labouvie, 1996). Thus, it is important to recognize that ‘‘interventions’’ for adolescent substance abuse are pervasive. And, for the most part, they can be said to be effective. It is a continuum between these types of environmental pressures and formal treatment programs. Somewhat intermediate are meetings an adolescent may have with his/her school counselor or family physician, or attendance at drop-in group counseling sessions provided in many high schools for substance use and abuse (Wagner, Brown, Monti, Myers and Waldron, 1999).
- ItemPrevention of problem gambling: A school-based intervention: Final report(Alberta Gaming Research Institute, 2002-12) Williams, Robert J.The current generation of North American youth are the first to have been raised in an environment of extensive legalized and government-sanctioned gambling. Perhaps as a consequence, the prevalence of problem gambling in North America is highest in adolescents and young adults. Campaigns to increase community awareness of problem gambling have been undertaken in several jurisdictions. However, systematic school-based programs are lacking, and the few published evaluations of these programs have obtained equivocal results. The purpose of the present research was to design, implement, and evaluate a schoolbased prevention program in an attempt to prevent problem gambling. The nature and content of the curriculum was derived from existing programs and a careful study of what was known to be effective in other primary prevention programs.
- ItemParental awareness of adolescent substance use(Elsevier, 2003) Williams, Robert J.; McDermitt, Dale R.; Bertrand, Lorne D.; Davis, R. MeghanParental awareness of adolescent substance use was investigated in a high school sample of 985 adolescents and their parents. Only 39% of parents were aware their adolescent used tobacco, only 34% were aware of alcohol use, and only 11% were aware of illicit drug use. There were no variables that differentiated aware from unaware parents for all substances. Greater parental awareness of alcohol and tobacco use occurred with older adolescents. High adolescent ratings of family communication combined with low parental ratings of family communication were also associated with greater parental awareness of alcohol and tobacco use. Better school grades predicted greater awareness of alcohol and illicit drug use. Single parents and blended families were more aware of tobacco and illicit drug use.
- ItemMental health status of infrequent adolescent substance users(Haworth Press, Inc., 2004) Williams, Robert J.; Zolner, Theresa; Bertrand, Lorne D.; Davis, R. MeghanFrequent substance use has a strong association with poor mental health. The relationship between infrequent substance use and mental health is less clear. The present study investigated this relationship in a large group (n = 2118) of 12-19-year-olds from Alberta, Canada. Results indicated that adolescents who used tobacco or alcohol once a month or less tended to have equivalent mental health status to abstainers. Using cannabis 3-5 times/year or less had no adverse mental health associations. However, poorer mental health was associated with single time use of hallucinogens or other drugs. In general, substance usage tended to have more negative mental health associations for younger compared to older adolescents.
- ItemPrevention of problem gambling: Lessons learned from two Alberta programs(National Association for Gambling Studies Inc., 2004) Williams, Robert J.; Connolly, Dennis; Wood, Robert T.; Currie, ShawnThe development of effective problem gambling prevention programs is in its infancy. The present paper discusses results of randomized control trials of two programs that have been implemented in Alberta, Canada. The first is a 10 session program delivered to several classes of university students taking Introductory Statistics. This program focused primarily on teaching the probabilities associated with gambling and included several hands-on demonstrations of typical casino table games. The second is a 5 session program delivered to high school students at several sites in southern Alberta. This program was more comprehensive, containing information and exercises on the nature of gambling and problem gambling, gambling fallacies, gambling odds, decisionmaking, coping skills, and social problem-solving skills. Data concerning gambling attitudes, gambling fallacies and gambling behaviour at 3 and 6-months postintervention are presented. The findings of these studies are somewhat counter-intuitive and have important implications for the design of effective prevention programs.
- ItemMethylphenidate and Dextroamphetamine Abuse in Substance-Abusing Adolescents(Taylor & Francis, 2004) Williams, Robert J.; Goodale, Leslie A.; Shay-Fiddler, Michele A.; Gloster, Susan P.; Chang, Samuel Y.The prevalence of methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine misuse and abuse was examined in 450 adolescents referred for substance abuse treatment. Twenty three percent reported nonmedical use of these substances and six percent were diagnosed as methylphenidate or dextroamphetamine abusers. Abuse was more common in individuals who were out of school and had an eating disorder. Methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine abuse appears to be much less common than abuse of most other substances. It does occur, however, and parents and schools need to exert greater control over the dispensing of these medications. Physicians are advised to prescribe non-stimulant medications (e.g., bupropion) when treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in substance-abusing individuals.
- ItemProgram findings that inform curriculum development for the prevention of problem gambling(National Association for Gambling Studies (Australia), 2004-05) Williams, Robert J.; Connolly, Dennis; Wood, Robert T.; Currie, Shawn; Davis, R. MeghanThe development of effective problem gambling prevention programs is in its infancy. The present paper discusses results of randomized control trials of two programs that have been implemented in Alberta, Canada. The first is a 10 session program delivered to several classes of university students taking Introductory Statistics. This program focused primarily on teaching the probabilities associated with gambling and included several hands-on demonstrations of typical casino table games. The second is a 5 session program delivered to high school students at several sites in southern Alberta. This program was more comprehensive, containing information and exercises on the nature of gambling and problem gambling, gambling fallacies, gambling odds, decision-making, coping skills, and social problem-solving skills. Data concerning gambling attitudes, gambling fallacies and gambling behaviour at 3 and 6-months post-intervention are presented. The findings of these studies are somewhat counter-intuitive and have important implications for the design of effective prevention programs.