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.


33rd Annual Convention; San Diego, CA; 2007

Event Details

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Symposium #274
Habituation and Dishabituation of Orienting and Operant Responses
Sunday, May 27, 2007
4:00 PM–5:20 PM
Madeleine CD
Area: EAB/AUT; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Janice K. Doney (University of Nevada, Reno)

Research on the influence of non-associative learning, habituation and dishabituation, on the orienting response of children with and without autism and the operant responding of typically developing adults.

Dishabituation: Misunderstood, Overlooked, and Undervalued.
AMY KENZER (University of Nevada, Reno), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Dishabituation may be one of the most well-known and frequently demonstrated preparations that is never the less misunderstood, overlooked, and undervalued. The role of dishabituation as “an associated phenomenon (McSweeney & Roll, 1998)” has resulted in a lack of investigation of dishabituation and a limited understanding of the conditions under which it can and cannot be demonstrated. Furthermore, confusion regarding dishabituation and other characteristics of habituation masks failures to demonstrate dishabituation when it does occur. Finally, many investigations of dishabituation fail to evaluate dishabituation in the first place. So long as dishabituation continues to play an inferior role, the misunderstanding and confusion that is dishabituation will be perpetuated. The best remedy to this problem is to increase the understanding of dishabituation as well as its importance within the field of psychology, through further investigation and precision concerning what constitutes dishabituation.
Dishabituation of Operant Responding in Humans.
AMY KENZER (University of Nevada, Reno), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada, Reno), Timothy C. Fuller (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Recently, habituation has been evaluated within the operant conditioning paradigm and evidence suggests that habituation may occur with repeatedly presented reinforcers. In addition, recent evidence suggests dishabituation of an habituated operant response may occur following changes in the schedule of reinforcement, reinforcer magnitude, and extraneous stimuli (Aoyama & McSweeney, 2001; McSweeney & Roll, 1998; Murphy et al., 2003; Murphy, 2003). However, most demonstrations of dishabituation are limited to non-human animals (e.g., rats and pigeons) and appetitive reinforcers (e.g., grain and pellets) (see Ernst & Eptstein, 2003 for an exception). Furthermore, the conditions under which dishabituation has been demonstrated with non-human animals have yet to be examined with human participants. This study was designed to link the research on habituation and dishabituation of operant responding in non-human animals to research involving humans. Thus changes in the reinforcer type and reinforcement schedule were evaluated to determine the effects on dishabituation of operant responding in humans.
Habituation of the "The Where Is It?" Response: Measurement, Analysis, and Relevance of the OR to Childhood Autism.
JANICE K. DONEY (University of Nevada, Reno), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada, Reno), Christy M. Coffman (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: The importance of the elicitation and habituation of the orienting response (OR) is widely recognized. Pavlov (1927) offered the following “If the animal were not provided with such a reflex its life would hang at every moment by a thread” (p.12). A majority of studies examining the OR have involved measurement of its physiological correlates. This approach to measurement has presented some difficulties in studies comparing the responses of children with autism and typically developing children to repeating, inconsequential stimuli. Although few in number, the existing examinations of OR habituation with children with autism present conflicting results. For example, it has been suggested that children with autism show similar rates and patterns of habituation to that of their typical peers. These findings are contradictory to other studies in the literature and caregiver reports that their children with autism are easily distracted and overreactive to stimuli in their environment. The results of a study comparing children with autism to their typical siblings on a behaviorally defined OR to repeating auditory stimuli of various intensities will be presented. The potential advantages of this approach and the implications for further analysis of OR habituation with children with autism will be discussed.



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