Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


34th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2008

Event Details

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Symposium #154
CE Offered: BACB
Noncontingent Reinforcement: Treatment Efficacy and Translational Experimentation
Sunday, May 25, 2008
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Stevens 1
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Carrie S. W. Borrero (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Discussant: Richard G. Smith (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Carrie S. W. Borrero, Ph.D.

Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) refers to the time-based delivery of a reinforcer independent of responding, such that there is no contingency between a response and a reinforcer. NCR has frequently been implemented as a treatment for problem behavior and generally has been shown to be effective in reducing levels of problem behavior. In the first paper, Severtson, Carr and Lepper will describe a quantitative review of NCR-based interventions to assess the efficacy of NCR as a treatment for problem behavior. In the second paper, Sloman, Vollmer, Samaha and Bosch will describe a comparison of momentary differential reinforcement of other behavior (mDRO) to NCR schedules, in the context of treating problem behavior. In the third paper, Carreau et al. will describe an evaluation of variable-interval (VI) schedules based on fixed-time schedules (FT) to measure the persistence of problem behavior when extinction procedures were implemented.

Noncontingent Reinforcement as Treatment for Problem Behavior: A Quantitative Review.
JAMIE M. SEVERTSON (Western Michigan University), James E. Carr (Western Michigan University), Tracy L. Lepper (Western Michigan University)
Abstract: Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) is a function-based treatment for problem behavior that has produced robust effects across a variety of response topographies, reinforcement functions, and populations. Several narrative literature reviews have adequately described the NCR treatment literature. The purpose of this presentation is to quantitatively analyze and classify the empirical support for NCR using the criteria developed by The Task Force on the Promotion and Dissemination of Psychological Procedures (1995). Of the 59 studies identified for analysis, 24 met the criteria to be included in treatment classification. Based on the Task Force guidelines, fixed-time reinforcer delivery (plus extinction and schedule thinning) was classified as well established, while fixed-time reinforcer delivery (plus extinction) and variable-time reinforcer delivery (plus extinction) were deemed probably efficacious.
A Clinical and Laboratory Evaluation of Noncontingent Reinforcement and Momentary Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior.
KIMBERLY SLOMAN (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida), Andrew Samaha (University of Florida), Amanda Bosch (University of Florida)
Abstract: Noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for various forms of problem behavior. However, some studies have shown that NCR may result in adventitious response-reinforcer pairings and, hence, subsequent increases in or maintenance of problem behavior. In momentary differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO), a reinforcer is delivered only if responding is absent at the end of the interval. We conducted two studies to evaluate the effectiveness of NCR and momentary DRO. The purpose of the first study was to conduct a clinical evaluation of NCR in the treatment of problem behavior. During the NCR fading procedure, we observed adventitious response-reinforcer pairings and increases in problem behavior. Next, we evaluated variations of momentary differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO). Results showed that momentary DRO was effective at preventing response reinforcer pairings and decreasing problem behavior. In the second study, we conducted laboratory evaluations of NCR and momentary DRO using non-human animals as subjects. Results showed that momentary DRO was more effective at reducing responding than NCR, and had comparable rates of reinforcement to NCR. Implications for the use of momentary DRO in application will be discussed.
A Further Examination of Behavioral Momentum Effects Arranged by Noncontingent Reinforcement.
ABBEY CARREAU (Kennedy Krieger Institutue), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Michelle A. Frank (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Mandy M. Triggs (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Melissa J. Allman (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Yanerys Leon (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Ahearn, Clark, Gardenier, Chung, and Dube (2003) recently suggested that stimuli delivered on a variable-time schedule during treatment of problem behavior can produce behavioral momentum effects, making problem behavior more resistant to subsequent intervention. However, their study involved automatically reinforced problem behavior and the challenge involved delivery of reinforcers thought to compete with the problem behavior. Automatically reinforced behavior may prove cumbersome in momentum analyses because differences in reinforcement rates, a critical aspect of the analysis, are difficult to quantify with precision. In the present study, we superimposed schedules of fixed-time (FT) reinforcement onto variable-interval (VI) schedules of reinforcement for problem behavior maintained by positive reinforcement and measured the persistence of problem behavior during subsequent periods of extinction. These effects were compared to behavioral persistence in extinction following an identical VI schedule without the superimposed FT schedule. The results thus far indicate that the addition of the FT schedule produced momentum effects, evidenced by increased latency to extinction and increased rates of problem behavior during extinction. These results are discussed in terms of potential effects of NCR on problem behavior when extinction is implemented with less than perfect integrity.



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