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.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #167
CE Offered: PSY
Response-reinforcer dependency: Research and application
Sunday, May 24, 2009
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
North 225
Area: EAB/CBM; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Carlos Cançado (West Virginia University)
Abstract: The effects of altering the response-reinforcer dependency in different research contexts and with different species are analyzed, with a focus on the relations between basic and applied findings. Cancado, Kuroda, Dickson, Elcoro and Lattal, manipulated in both ascending and descending orders, the proportion of response-dependent reinforcement over pigeon’s key-pecking maintained by multiple fixed-time–variable-time schedules of reinforcement. Defulio, Donlin, Wong and Silverman, compared the effects of long term clinical interventions arranging abstinence-dependent employment or employment only on the relapse of cocaine use in methadone patients and comparatively assessed its effects on drug relapse prevention. St. Peter-Pipkin, Alo and Brosh analyzed the effects of different response-reinforcer dependencies on treatment integrity, using human operant and applied procedures that employed concomitant schedules of reinforcement. The authors will discuss their results in light of basic schedule research as it can inform application. Finally, Samaha and Vollmer present results of several studies with rats in which response acquisition and maintenance were assessed by manipulating the probability of reinforcement dependent on the occurrence and non-occurrence of behavior. The four presentations stress the importance of understanding the behavioral effects of altering the response-reinforcer dependency and the implications of integrating basic and applied findings on this research topic.
Effects of response-reinforcer dependency on variable- and fixed-interval responding
CARLOS CANÇADO (West Virginia University), Toshikazu Kuroda (West Virginia University), Chata A. Dickson (West Virginia University), Mirari Elcoro (Armstrong Atlantic State University), Kennon A. Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Manipulating the proportions of response-dependent reinforcement can differentially influence operant behavior previously maintained under conditions of complete response-reinforcer dependency. Previous studies have shown that response rates are directly related to the arranged proportion of response-dependent reinforcement. The effects of different response-reinforcer dependencies on responding maintained by different schedules of reinforcement have been less well investigated. In the present experiment, two pigeons each were exposed either to multiple fixed-interval – fixed-interval (FI FI) or to variable-interval–variable interval (VI VI) schedules of reinforcement before exposure to multiple fixed-time – variable-time (FTVT) schedules. In this phase, the proportion of response-dependent reinforcement was systematically varied across conditions, but was kept constant across schedule components within the same condition. Specifically, the proportion of response-dependent reinforcement was varied first in an ascending (0% to 100%) and then in a descending order (100% to 0%). Response rates were directly related to the proportion of response-dependent reinforcement in both schedule components and were generally higher under the VT component. In some cases, FT response rates were higher and did not vary systematically with different proportions of response-reinforcer dependency. The results are discussed in the light of characteristics of FI and VI schedules performance.
Extending the principle of response dependency to the problem of cocaine addiction: A randomized controlled trial.
ANTHONY L. DEFULIO (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Wendy Donlin (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Conrad J. Wong (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), Kenneth Silverman (Johns Hopkins University)
Abstract: Cocaine addiction is a difficult to treat, long-term chronic condition. Contingency management has been effective in promoting cocaine abstinence, but has usually been applied in short-term interventions. A practical vehicle for long-term application of contingency management to cocaine addiction is required. In this study, we evaluated the therapeutic workplace, in which access to employment was contingent upon drug-free urines, as a long-term treatment for cocaine addiction. After a six month pre-randomization phase, participants who initiated abstinence, acquired basic skills, and consistently attended the workplace were invited to one year of employment. These participants were randomly assigned to abstinence-contingent employment (AE) or employment only (EO). Both groups provided frequent urine samples. Accessing the workplace depended on urinalysis results for the AE group, but was independent of urinalysis results for the EO group. AE participants provided more cocaine-negative samples than EO participants (87% vs. 53%; p < 0.001). This presentation features data showing patterns of drug abstinence, HIV risk behaviors, attendance, and retention over time. The study shows that employment-based abstinence reinforcement can be an effective long-term intervention to prevent relapse in refractory, cocaine-addicted methadone patients.
Effects of Treatment Integrity Failures on Time-Based Treatment Schedules: A Translational Approach
CLAIRE ST. PETER PIPKIN (West Virginia University), Raquel Alo (The Continuous Learning Group), Ellen Nicole Brosh (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Time-based reinforcement schedules are commonly used as a treatment for problem behavior. Although procedures for time-based schedules are typically straightforward, they may not be consistently implemented as designed. This inconsistent implementation may include response-dependent reinforcer deliveries. In basic research studies, concominant time-based and interval schedules sometimes result in response maintenance, but the effects are dependent on the particular schedule values. This suggests that any type of response-dependent reinforcer delivery might result in compromised treatment effects. We examined this possibility using human operant and applied research procedures. Nonclinical participants engaged in responding that was analogous to problem behavior during reinforcement conditions that varied from completely response dependent to completely response independent. Results showed that concominant schedules typically produced maintained responding, suggesting that certain types of treatment integrity failures, including intermittent response-dependent reinforcer delivery, are detrimental to treatment outcome. Additionally, these outcomes underscore how the results of basic research can inform application.
Acquisition and Maintenance when Reinforcers are Presented Following both the Occurrence and Omission of Behavior
ANDREW L. SAMAHA (Utah State University), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: Five experiments were conducted examining the acquisition and maintenance of lever pressing in rats using a preparation where reinforcers were arranged following both the occurrence and nonoccurrence of behavior within an interval. The first experiment showed that contingency values that did not promote acquisition in experimentally naïve rats did maintain lever pressing after the animals had been exposed to powerful positive contingencies. Experiment two replicated this finding but suggested that early exposure to a negative contingency (where responding results in a decrease in the probability of a reinforcer delivery) potentially disrupted the sensitivity to weak positive contingencies. A third experiment attempted to isolate the effects of negative contingency exposure within individual subjects, but the results were equivocal. The fourth experiment assessed contrast and interaction effects when contingencies were alternated using a multiple schedule. The fifth experiment examined changes in behavior as the consequence for responding shifted from increasing to decreasing the probability of a reinforcer delivery. Results showed that rates of responding varied as a function of contingency strength. Results of the experiments will be discussed in terms of implications for the acquisition and maintenance of both desired and undesired human behavior.



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