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.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Poster Session #93
Saturday, May 24, 2014
5:00 PM–7:00 PM
W375a-d (McCormick Place Convention Center)
1. Occasion Setting and Sensory Preconditioning
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
GABRIEL VELAZQUEZ GONZALEZ (Universidad de Guadalajara), Carlos Javier Flores Aguirre (Universidad de Guadalajara), Oscar Garcia Leal (Universidad de Guadalajara)
Abstract: An occasion setter does no influence responding to a new conditioned stimulus (CS), unless this new CS has been a target in a separate feature-positive or feature-negative discrimination. However, it would be possible to observe occasion-setting transfer to a new CS if this stimulus becomes a CS for its previous association with the target CS that was in the original discrimination. Therefore, this experiment examined occasion-setting transfer in a feature-positive discrimination using a sensory preconditioning procedure. Female rats were used as experimental subjects. In a first phase, one group of rats (Paired Group) was exposed to a serial compound stimulus AB, and another group (Unpaired Group) received intermixed presentations of A and B. In the second phase, both groups were trained on a serial feature-positive discrimination in which B was reinforced only when the feature was present (XB+, B–, X–). In the transfer test it was examined whether X acquired the ability to control responding to stimulus A. Only the Unpaired Group learned the discrimination and during the transfer test no differences between groups were observed. These results suggest that prior exposure to neutral stimuli in association might interfere with the learning of a feature-positive discrimination.
2. Influence of Age and IQ on Visual Discrimination Ability in Children
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
SARAH BETH BELL (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Shelly Baldwin (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Suzanne Bussard (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Merle G. Paule (National Center for Toxicological Research), John J. Chelonis (National Center for Toxicological Research)
Abstract: Animal models have been increasingly utilized to understand how toxicants, drugs, genetics, and even emotional states affect the complex relationship between brain and behavior. This research examined how age and IQ affect performance of children on a conditioned position response (CPR) task that has demonstrated sensitivity to drug and toxicant effects in nonhumans. The participants were 901 children 4 to 13 years of age. Each child was presented with one of four colors projected onto the center one of three press-plates. After pressing the center press-plate to extinguish the colored light, the child then pressed one of the two side press-plates that were illuminated white. The correct response for each color was assigned to either the left or right press-plate for the entire task. The child received a nickel for each correct response. Each child also completed an IQ test. Younger children were significantly less accurate on the CPR task than older children (p<.001). Children with higher IQs were significantly more accurate than children with lower IQs (p<.001), and this difference was most prominent for younger children. The research presented here provides evidence that this cross-species measure of visual discrimination is sensitive to variables such as age and IQ.
3. Relationship Between Performance on a Progressive Ratio Task and a Delayed Matching-to-Sample Task
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
SARAH BETH BELL (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Grace Irons (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Merle G. Paule (National Center for Toxicological Research), John J. Chelonis (National Center for Toxicological Research)
Abstract: Questionnaire measures of motivation have been found to positively correlate with academic performance in children and with performance on a variety of neuropsychological measures including tests of working memory. This study sought to determine if a behavioral measure of motivation could predict performance on a working memory task in children. The participants were 629 children 5 to 13 years of age. Motivation was assessed using a progressive ratio (PR) task in which children pressed a response lever an increasing number of times to receive nickels. Working memory was assessed using a delayed matching-to-sample (DMTS) task that required children to match a shape that appeared previously from a selection of three shapes that appeared on press-plates. A significant positive correlation between number of PR responses and DMTS accuracy was found across the entire sample of children (r=.34, p<.001), but often did not occur when examined at each one year increment of age. This lack of generalization at each age group may have been due to a larger contribution of other factors such as sex and IQ that may have differentially influenced performance on these tasks.
4. Neuroimaging the Temporal Dynamics of Delayed Stimulus Control: Effects of Distracters and Differential Reinforcement on Regional Response Profiles
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
SANDY MAGEE (University of North Texas), Michael W. Schlund (University of North Texas)
Abstract: Neuroimaging studies on working memory provide a wealth of information about the brain mechanisms supporting delayed stimulus control. However, few cognitive neuroscience investigations have addressed questions about the effects of environmental factors on brain activation. In this investigation, we used a modified DMTS task to examine (1) how distracter stimuli presented during the delay may degrade stimulus control and modulate activation and (2) how differential reinforcement may counteract the effects of distracters. During fMRI, fourteen subjects completed three distracter conditions (none, neutral, negative) with and without reinforcement of correct responses. Results showed (1) neutral and negative distracters decreased response accuracy and increased brain activation in amygdala and dorsal and ventral lateral prefrontal cortices, (2) negative distracters produced the largest effect and (3) reinforcement neutralized the effects of distracters and reduced activation. Findings highlight some of the brain mechanisms supporting delayed stimulus control and how reinforcement can modulate regional responses.
5. Effects of Varying the Spatial Position of the Signaling and Water on the Differential Adjustment
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
FELIPE PATRON (Universidad de Guadalajara)

This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of varying the signaling and the spatial location (order and place of occurrence) of no contingent stimuli events over differential adjustment. Nine rats were exposed to three experimental conditions that were characterized by the manipulation of the spatial coordinates in which water (contextualizing stimulus) was delivered using a Fixed Time 20s schedule. In Phase 1 water was delivered only in a spatial location. In Phase 2 the water was delivered in three different spatial locations in sequential order while in Phase 3 was delivered in random order. Three groups were differentiated depending on the signaling conditions (contextualized stimulus): (1) without signaling, (2) variable spatial contiguity between signal and water, (3) spatial contiguity between signal and water. The results suggest that the differential adjustment is affected by: (a) the consistency of the occurrence of stimuli in fixed spatial coordinates through time; (b) the conjoint occurrence of signal and water delivery location; and (c) the spatial contiguity between these stimuli. Several measurement units to identify the differential adjustment related to contextual function were proposed.

6. Contextual Effects on Decision Making in the Sharing Game
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
FANNY SILVA (Universidade Federal de São Carlos), Diogo Conque Seco Ferreira (Universidade Federal de Sergipe)
Abstract: The Sharing Game studies the motivations involved in the distribution of resources. The participant faces trials in which he must choose between two options (optimal and competitive), both with an amount of resources for him and for other passive participant. From their choice, participants may be classified as optimizers, egalitarians or competitive. The objective of this study was to provide different contexts for the Sharing Game and investigate their effects. Seven studies (n=233) were conducted with University students recruited by convenience. Studies involved gain and loss of resource, real and hypothetical money, distribution of time and prior information about the receiver. The percentage of optimal choices in each study was calculated and the participants were classified into one of those three categories accordingly. Variations in the choices distribution demonstrate that the Sharing Game is sensitive to the situation in which it is played.
7. Observing Responses Maintained by Stimulus-Classes Formed Through Repeated Reversal Shifts
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
CATALINA SERRANO (Universidade de Sao Paulo), Gerson Yukio Tomanari (Universidade de Sao Paulo)
Abstract: The relation between observing responses and discriminative responses is supported by experiments that vary the discriminative function of the stimulus observed; stimuli with higher reinforcement probabilities maintain more observing responses than stimuli associated with lower reinforcement probabilities. The aim of this experiment was to test the extent to which stimuli sharing discriminative function could maintain observing responses. Stimuli sharing functions may compound a functional stimulus-class. Seven college students learned to discriminate two sets of stimuli through a simple simultaneous task; each set was compound by four stimuli. The participants responded on a keyboard; an eye-tracker was used to measure the observing responses. Next, four contingency reversal shifts were conducted. The reversion of choices and duration of observing responses in the first trials of each shift were evaluated. The results showed that all participants formed functional classes with at least one of the sets used. The duration of the observing responses were higher for S+ than for S- (F=88,43; p<0.05). Four participants who demonstrated class formation showed corresponding observing responses reversion. This suggests that, when a set of stimuli establishes a discriminative stimulus-class, it starts to exert conditioned reinforcement functions for observing responses. Thus, discriminative stimulus-classes are also conditioned reinforcers classes.
8. Modified Observing Response Fails to Produce Near Miss Effect
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
MORGAN L. MANSON (University of Nevada, Reno), Benjamin N. Witts (St. Cloud State University), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: The near miss event in slot machine gambling is seen when nearly all symbols required to win line up on a payline. Traditionally, the near miss has served a feedback function in games of skill. As a game of chance, however, near miss events in slot machines serve no such role, though the individual gambler may behave as though it does. Attempts to study the near miss have relied almost exclusively on resistance to extinction and preference research, both of which fail to adequately capture putative reinforcement properties of this event. The current investigation sought to introduce and test a new methodology for assessing reinforcement properties of stimuli, termed the simultaneous observing of concurrently available schedules. This procedure incorporates an observing response, the gold standard of reinforcement assessment, to concurrently available schedules. Tests of the methodology on win percentage and near miss densities provide evidence for its use as a tool for assessing putative reinforcers.
9. Stimulus Duration Effects in an Observing Response Procedure with Rats
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
GONZALO FERNANDEZ (Universidad de Guadalajara), Carlos Torres (Universidad de Guadalajara), Carlos Javier Flores Aguirre (Universidad de Guadalajara)
Abstract: Stimulus control depends on the contact an organism has to a pair of stimuli. In an observing response procedure, stimuli seemingly develop both reinforcing and discriminative properties. As to the reinforcing properties, empirical background in the area suggest that the longer the duration of the correlated stimulus the greater the reinforcing effect it will have on the response that produces it (observing response). Furthermore, it has been reported that when the rate of observing decreases or increases the degree of discrimination changes accordingly. The present study was designed to investigate the effects of manipulating the reinforcing value of the stimulus on the observing response rate and the subsequent degree of discrimination in an observing response procedure with rats, using different stimulus durations. Subjects were placed in an observing response procedure with two levers. Pressing on one lever was reinforced on a mixed random-interval 8s/extinction schedule, while pressing a second lever produced the component-correlated stimuli for 0.5s, 5s or 10s. Observing response rates increased as a function of stimulus duration, although the effects on discrimination were unclear. Results suggest that stimulus duration might be an important feature directly related to the acquisition of reinforcing properties of previously neutral stimuli.
10. Measuring the Moment of Stimulus Control Transfer using iPad Technology
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
JESSICA SYLVIA (Ball state university)
Abstract: Measuring the moment of stimulus control transfer is important in understanding the basic building blocks of learning. Three adolescents with diagnoses of Autism and Intellectual Disability were errorless taught to press the red side on an iPad touchscreen vs. the white side of the iPad touch screen. Two E shapes were superimposed on the iPad screen; one side with an E rotated 90 degrees clockwise and the other with the E rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise. A specific side of the screen was identified to be the correct response and another side to be an incorrect response, for each series of trials. Trial one began with the iPad sides available to press and then within .5 seconds the correct response was illuminated red. With each correct response (pressing the red button) the time before prompting with red illumination was increased by .5 seconds. With each incorrect response the time was reduced by .5 seconds. With each correct response the individuals were reinforced with preferred tangibles based upon a preference assessment conducted prior to each trial. Measuring the moment of stimulus control transfer is measuring the moment of learning. Data shows that the point of stimulus transfer varies significantly, with 100% confidence. 1 1This study is a modern replication of the following study: Touchette P. E. Transfer of stimulus control: Measuring the moment of transfer. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. (1971);15:347–354. doi:10.1901/jeab.1971.15-347
11. Abstract Stimulus Control Development Under Pavlovian, Operant and Conditional-Discrimination Contingencies
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
MARIO SERRANO (Universidad Veracruzana), Edgar Eduardo Montes Castro (Universidad Veracruzana)
Abstract: A 2x2 factorial design was used to assess the effects of simple (SD) versus conditional discrimination (CD) contingencies and non-contingent (NK) versus contingent (K) feedback on abstract stimulus control. Four groups (SD-NK, SD-K, CD-NK, and CD-K) of college students were exposed to matching-to-sample tasks and three transfer tests using new stimuli, new relevant features for matching, and a new matching relation. Feedback for NK groups was determined by the performance observed for the K groups during training. Participants from the CD-K group showed the highest percentage of correct responses on all transfer tests, followed by participants from the SD-K group for which extra-relational transfer was not observed. Percentage of correct responses for both NK groups was near to chance level across transfer tests. Results are discussed in relation to previous experiments on generalized matching-to-sample and rule-governed behavior.
12. Modality of Instructions and Abstract Stimulus Control Development
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
ZAIRA JACQUELINE GARCíA PéREZ (Universidad Veracruzana), Mario Serrano (Universidad Veracruzana), Agustin Daniel Gomez Fuentes (Universidad Veracruzana), Enrique Zepeta Garcia (Universidad Veracruzana), Cecilia Magdalena Molina Lopez (Universidad Veracruzana)
Abstract: Three groups of elementary students were exposed to a matching-to-sample training and three transfer tests using new stimuli, new relevant features for matching, and a new matching relation. Between groups, initial instructions regarding the conditional discrimination task were read, listened, or observed (i.e., a video showed correct and incorrect choices of comparison stimuli). After transfer tests participants were inquired about the best way to solve the same task but by another person Performance on transfer trials was low for all participants. Those exposed to the video showed the lowest percentage of correct responses but described the more abstract instructions to solve the task by another person. The results suggests that modality of instructions produced an instructional accuracy effect that impeded transfer of performances to new matching relations and rule construction. Results are discussed in relation to previous experiments on generalized matching-to-sample and rule-governed behavior.
13. Intensity Fading of Incorrect Comparisons in Matching-to-Sample
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
MICHAEL MAURANTONIO (Fordham University), James S. MacDonall (Fordham University)
Abstract: In a fading procedure, a salient feature of a stimulus is exaggerated to reduce the difficulty of initial discrimination responding. This exaggeration is gradually reduced. The present experiment investigated the effect of an intensity fading procedure on the speed of acquisition in a symbolic matching, three-choice matching-to-sample procedure. The subjects were four experienced pigeons maintained at 85% ad-libitum weight. Subjects were previously used in identity and symbolic matching-to-sample experiments with color and black and white clipart samples and comparisons. The apparatus consisted of four operant chambers with touch screens and feeders. Several pecks to the sample produced three comparison stimuli. Pecks to the arbitrarily designated correct comparison were reinforced, while pecks to other comparisons were not reinforced. The discrimination acquisition criteria was set at 94% correct. A within-subject design was employed to minimize the effect of differences between subjects and prior learning history on the data. Sessions were composed of 72 trials. In the experimental condition the intensity value of the incorrect comparison was initially set at 0 and increased in intervals of 25 until set at full intensity (a value of 255). The data indicate that the experimental procedure led to fewer errors than the control procedure. Conclusions about the speed to discrimination were not as clear: there was little consistent difference between the experimental and control procedures in the number of sessions necessary for subjects to acquire the discrimination.
14. Acquisition and Transfer of a Second Order Conditional Discrimination Using an Arbitrary Matching-To-Sample Task
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
AGUSTIN DANIEL GOMEZ FUENTES (Universidad Veracruzana), Emilio Ribes (Universidad Veracruzana)
Abstract: The purpose of these experiments was to evaluate the effect of linguistic modes writing-reading, speaking-listening, pointing out-observing with or without reactive mode during acquisition and transference intra-modes of an execution in an arrangement of conditional discrimination second order using arbitrary relationships between stimuli. Twelve boys and girls were included from 8 to 11 years old, experimentally nave from a primary school in the city of Xalapa, Veracruz. The experiments used a pretest-posttest design, a training phase for each individual mode of learning in three sequences. The results confirm previous findings by showing differences in the acquisition of a conditional discrimination response depending on the language mode used and the presence or absence of reactive feedback. The execution level was less than that obtained in studies using direct relationships between geometric stimuli.
15. The Relationship Between the BAS-BIS Scales and the Frustration Effect on a Delayed Match-to-Sample Task
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
DAVID WAYNE MITCHELL (Missouri State University), Matthew R. Underwood (Missouri State University), Bret T. Eschman (Missouri State University), Keith M. Gora (Bemidji State University), Jacob Ham (Missouri State University), Robert E. Saab (Missouri State University), Jenna J. Rakestraw (Missouri State University), Stephanie L. Aholt (Missouri State University)
Abstract: The Behavior Approach Scale (BAS) and the Behavior Inhibition Scale (BIS) are regarded as measures of two physiological systems; one associated with approach motivation (BAS; seeking of rewards) and one associated with aversive motivation (BIS; avoidance of aversive events). The relationship between the BAS and BIS and subsequent performance on a Delayed Match-to-Sample Task, particularly on the frustration (omission of an expected reward) trial, was assessed in this study. On the frustration trial there was a significant decrease in heart rate (HR) and response latency (RL) was slower compared to reward trials. BAS was found to be correlated negatively with HR and RL. That is, individuals who scored high on reward seeking tended to displayed greater HR deceleration and faster RL. BIS was found to be correlated positively with HR and RL. That is, individuals who scored high in avoidance tended to display HR acceleration and slower RL. Also, the BAS and BIS were found to be correlated negatively, suggesting that the BAS and BIS do reflect individual differences in types of motivation and represent two separate physiological systems as hypothesized. These findings lend support for further study and assessment of individual differences in reinforcement and punishment histories.
16. Individual Differences in Anticipatory Heart Rate and Visual Scanning on a Delayed Match-To-Sample Task
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
BRET T. ESCHMAN (Missouri State University), David Wayne Mitchell (Missouri State University), Keith M. Gora (Bemidji State University), Nonah M. Olesen (Missouri State University), Jacob Ham (Missouri State University), Kirsty M. Kulhanek (Missouri State University)
Abstract: Individual differences in Anticipatory Heart Rate (AHR), Visual Scanning (VS), and Response Latency (RL) were examined on a Delay Match-To-Sample (DMTS) task. Previous research has demonstrated that the direction (HR acceleration or deceleration) and the magnitude of HR change represent specific attending behaviors during visual discrimination learning; that is, HR deceleration is associated primarily with stimulus orientation, whereas HR acceleration corresponds to stimulus feature comparison. This purpose of this study was: (1) to establish AHR (changes in HR between the Sample stimulus offset and Test stimuli onset) as an indicator of changes in covert behavior while solving DMTS problems, and (2) to demonstrate that AHR is related to changes in VS and RL. Significant differences were found across trials in the magnitude and slope of AHR; that is, AHR and AHR slope increased significantly from Trial 1 to the first Solution Trial. Moreover, AHR Slope was correlated negatively with VS (the number of fixations) of the correct DMTS test stimulus, and VS to the Sample stimulus was correlated negatively with RL. It is the contention of the authors that AHR and VS behavior could better serve the behavior analyst in the measurement and understanding of covert behavior.
17. Quantifying the Forgetting Rates of Children With and Without Major Depression
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
LOUIS JOHNSTON (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences-Arkansas Children's Hospital), Halley Jarrett (Harding University), Shelly Baldwin (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), Andrea Sutton (National Center for Toxicological Research - FDA), Merle G. Paule (National Center for Toxicological Research), John J. Chelonis (National Center for Toxicological Research)
Abstract: Individuals with major depressive disorder often exhibit difficulties in thinking and concentrating which often manifest as general executive function deficits including impairments in recall. This study used a modified power function to quantify and compare the rate of forgetting on a delayed matching-to-sample (DMTS) task for children with and without major depression. Participants were 47 children between the ages of 8 to 12 years. Seventeen children scored 60 or greater (depression group) and thirty children scored less than 55 (control group) on the Child Depression Inventory. The DMTS task presented the participant with a shape on the center one of three press-plates which was extinguished when pressed. After a delay, the participant was presented with three shapes and had to press the previously displayed shape to receive a nickel. Although recall at short delays tended to be higher for children in the depression group (p=.09), the rate of forgetting was significantly greater for children in the depression group than for children in the control group (p<.01), as indicated by the values for the free parameters of the power function. This research indicates that a power function can effectively quantify forgetting rates for children with and without major depression.
18. Effects of Variability in Duration of Reinforcement on Food-reinforced Responding in Rats
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
WHITNEY BAKARICH (University of Alaska Anchorage), Eric S. Murphy (University of Alaska Anchorage), Audrienne Manansala (University of Alaska Anchorage)
Abstract: Understanding the variables that maintain reinforcer effectiveness has important implications for basic research to inform applied behavior analysis. The goal of the current study was to investigate the combined effects of rate of reinforcement and variability in duration of access to reinforcement on within-session changes in operant responding. In this experiment, Wistar rats (N = 6) lever pressed for liquid sucrose by either a constant or varied duration of access to reinforcement on three fixed-interval (FI) schedules. The experiment was a 2 (Condition: constant or variable reinforcement duration) X 3 (Rate of reinforcement: FI 8 s, 16 s, and 32 s) X 12 (2.5 min interval) counterbalanced design. Results showed two fundamental properties of behavior undergoing habituation. First, within-session decreases in responding were steeper (greater habituation) at higher rates (e.g., FI8 s) than lower rates (e.g., FI32 s). Second, within-session rates of responding declined slower (slower habituation) when duration of access to the reinforcer was presented in a variable versus constant manner. Because habituation occurs for both ingestive and noningestive stimuli, the present study adds to the body of literature on habituation and can inform clinical practice on the variables that sustain operant behavior through varying the delivery of the reinforcer.
19. An Exploration of Reinforcing Behavioural Variability in Discrete Dimensions
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
XIUYAN (KITT) KONG (The University of Waikato), James McEwan (The University of Waikato), Lewis A. Bizo (The University of Waikato), Therese Mary Foster (The University of Waikato)
Abstract: In Experiment 1, 48 participants using a computer created 300 combinations of, shapes, colours and patterns. Half received points when they varied on these three dimensions (VAR) and the other half received the same number of points regardless (YOKE). Responses were more variable for the VAR group but only for colour. In Experiment 2, 114 participants were asked to fill 220 shapes with one of 135 colours. During the first and last 60 trials they received no feedback while for the remaining they received reinforcement when they used a colour that had never been used previously. Overall, the number of colours used increased when reinforcement was provided. Participants used more colours in the last 60 trials than the first; 60% of the colours used were never used during the first 60 trials. That is, the variability in the use of colours increased after participants had been reinforced to vary.
20. The Effects of Lag Reinforcement Schedules on the Drawing Behavior of Typically Developing Children
Area: EAB; Domain: Applied Research
JOHN O'NEILL (Southern Illinois University), Kristen Whiteford (Southern Illinois University), Ruth Anne Rehfeldt (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: The role of variability as a component in the development of creative behavior has received little attention from behavior analysts. The purpose of this study was to observe the behavior of 3 typically developing children with regards to the effects of lag reinforcement schedules embedded within a drawing task. Participants were asked to draw and name shapes in each of 15 circles provided on a sheet of paper. During baseline, reinforcement was provided for all shapes drawn and named until stability was observed in the number of shapes produced. During intervention phases lag reinforcement schedules were implemented. Once criterion level responding was achieved, the lag reinforcement schedule was advanced; beginning with lag1 and followed by lag2 and lag3 reinforcement schedules. A final phase assessed the effects of a lag reinforcement schedule plus a rule. Results indicate that participant behavior was sensitive to lag reinforcement schedules as suggested by criterion-level performance as well as increases in the number of within-session shapes and the number of novel shapes produced. These findings suggest that lag reinforcement schedules might be a valuable behavior analytic tool in promoting the development of creative behavior.
21. Parametric Analysis of Fixed Lag Schedule Performance in Humans
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
ERIN M. CARR (University of Nevada, Reno), Tara Michelle Brush (University of Nevada, Reno), Patrick M. Ghezzi (University of Nevada, Reno)
Abstract: Response variability is an operant dimension of behavior and may be controlled by contingent reinforcement. It has been demonstrated that variable responding can be modified through reinforcement contingent on variability. Studies show that higher-order repetition may develop with lag schedules of reinforcement as well. This study examines response variability parametrically with human subjects under fixed lag schedules of reinforcement. Response repetition under fixed lag schedules of reinforcement is also analyzed. Results show that 1) response variability increases with increased parameters of a lag schedule 2) higher-order repetition decreases with increased parameters of a lag schedule and 3) considerable variability in responding may be obtained without repetition at relatively low lag values. This study offers preliminary data for an alternative method of treatment for individuals who demonstrate abnormal levels of variable responding including those with a diagnosis of autism, ADHD, and depression. The use of a lag 4 schedule of reinforcement as an alternative method for the modification of variable responding is discussed along with future research in operant variability.
22. Use of a Variable Lag Schedule of Reinforcement to Increase Varied Activity Selection by Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Area: EAB; Domain: Applied Research
KELLY DULAK (Bancroft), Kelly Dulak (Bancroft), Tracy L. Kettering (Bancroft), Michelle Ennis Soreth (Rowan University)
Abstract: Although repetitive behavior may be seen as adaptive in some occasions, it may also hinder an individuals ability to solve problems and function in society. Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder often emit highly repetitive, stereotyped behaviors which inhibit their ability to proceed with daily activities, and learn other behaviors. Variability is an operant dimension of behavior which can be controlled by consequence-based operations (Neuringer & Page, 1984). Continuous reinforcement schedules have been shown to reduce variability across multiple response dimensions, and increase behavioral stereotypy (Lee, Sturmey, and Fields, 2007). Lag schedules examine previous responses emitted to determine if the current response will access reinforcement, depending on schedule parameters, and have been used to increase variability in human participants. A fixed lag-1 schedule may potentially lead to higher-order stereotypy , or a switching pattern, between two responses when the schedule is in place (Schwartz, 1982). At present, a variable-lag schedule has not been examined empirically with human participants. In the current study, a variable lag schedule will be used to increase the variability in activity choice in children with Autism. It is hypothesized that the use of a fixed lag-2 schedule will increase variable activity selection, but may induce higher-order stereotypy. In addition, the use of a variable lag schedule will be used to decrease higher-order stereotypy potentially seen in a fixed-lag schedule, and to further demonstrate variable responding can fall under schedule control.
Keyword(s): poster session



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