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.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

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Symposium #499
CE Offered: BACB — 
Basic and Applied Research on Behavior in Transitions Between Rich and Lean Schedules of Reinforcement
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Zurich D, Swissotel
Area: EAB/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Forrest Toegel (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Dean C. Williams (The University of Kansas)
CE Instructor: Einar T. Ingvarsson, Ph.D.

Discriminable shifts between rich and lean schedules of reinforcement can produce maladaptive disruptions in behavior. The disruptions have been studied in rats, pigeons, monkeys, and humans using a variety of procedures to arrange transitions between rich and lean schedules. The presentations in this symposium represent some basic and applied efforts to investigate this phenomenon and to expand findings to novel areas of the field. The first presentation investigated effects of the rich-lean transition on water consumption in non-thirsty rats; the second, effects of warning pigeons of an upcoming transition to a lean schedule of reinforcement; the third, pausing and escape in children with autism in the presence of stimuli associated with the rich-lean transition; and the fourth, the use of aversive features of the rich-lean transition to correct errors when teaching skills to children with autism. Our aim is to promote the dialogue between basic researchers, applied researchers, and practitioners interested behavior during transitions between rich and lean schedules.

Keyword(s): Autism, Behavioral Disruptions, Rich-Lean Transitions, Translational Research
Regulation of Rats’ Fluid Intake by Shifts in Reinforcer Magnitude or Response Requirement
LESLIE SAWYER (College of Charleston), Chad M. Galuska (College of Charleston)
Abstract: In both animals and humans, negative incentive shifts (transitions from rich to lean) in reinforcement context have been shown to produce behavioral disruption in the form of extended pausing. Research in our laboratory has demonstrated that these transitions also engender water drinking in non-thirsty rats. Rats responded on a multiple fixed-ratio (FR) 100 FR 100 schedule with components differing in terms of reinforcer magnitude (1 versus 6 pellets). In a subsequent experiment, components differed in response requirements (multiple FR 30 FR 120) with the reinforcer held constant at one pellet. The two components were signaled by the lever inserted into the chamber (left versus right), and alternated pseudo-randomly. The transition between a just-received large reinforcer (or small ratio) to a signaled upcoming-small reinforcer (or large ratio) produced extended pausing and water drinking as recorded by lickometer beam breaks. Water drinking usually did not occur in the other transitions between reinforcers (i.e., small-small, small-large, large-large). Current manipulations include the use of sweetened water, with has produced transitory polydipsia during the negative incentive shift.
A Method to Study the Effects of Advance Notice on Transition-Related Problem Behavior
FORREST TOEGEL (West Virginia University), Michael Perone (West Virginia University)
Abstract: “Advance notice” refers to procedures that include signals that warn of upcoming events. Applied research has considered whether advance notice of a transition from preferred to non-preferred activities will reduce the problem behavior that sometimes occurs in these transitions. Interpretation of this research is complicated by procedural variation in both the arrangement of transitions and the presentation of advance notice. We developed a laboratory method to study advance notice in pigeons. Key-pecking was maintained on a two-component multiple schedule. In the “lean” component, completing a fixed-ratio produced access to food pellets for a short time; in the “rich” component, completing the ratio produced longer access. The problem behavior occurred in the transition between rich and lean components, when pecking was disrupted for an extended period. Advance notice was provided by flashing the houselight early or late in some ratios preceding a lean component. Preliminary results indicate that, in our preparation, providing advance notice does not reduce the disruption in responding during the rich-lean transition, and may worsen it. Furthermore, advance notice may disrupt responding within the component in which it is delivered.

Pausing and Escape in Transitions Between Activities

BERGLIND SVEINBJORNSDOTTIR (Western New England University), Chata A. Dickson (Western New England University), Caroline McDonnell (The New England Center for Children)

Differential pausing in signaled transitions from more favorable to less favorable conditions has been demonstrated with humans and animals in the experimental analysis of behavior. Analysis of the variables responsible for pausing could be useful in understanding problem behavior in transitions between activities for children with autism. We conducted two experiments to extend previous research on pausing and escape during transitions between relatively rich and lean schedules of reinforcement. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders served as participants. The purpose of the first experiment was to replicate previous research on pausing in a two-component multiple schedule with a richer and a leaner schedule of reinforcement. The purpose of the second experiment was to examine whether escape responses would be emitted under the same conditions as pausing. In addition, we examined whether the participants would emit an escape response that removed the schedule or the stimuli associated with the lean schedule. For 2 participants the longest median pause duration was in the LL transition type and for 2 participants the longest median pause duration was in the RL transition type. Mixed results were found when pausing duration data was compared to frequency of escape data.


Incorporating Rich-to-Lean Transitions Into Error Correction Procedures

EINAR T. INGVARSSON (Child Study Center), Joshua Jessel (Child Study Center)

Research on error correction procedures often include the manipulation of different prompting strategies (e.g., Carroll, Joachim, St. Peter, & Robinson, 2015) or reinforcement schedules (e.g., Hausman, Ingvarsson, & Kahng, 2014), both of which can improve independent responding and acquisition during discrete trial training. We extended error correction research with different schedules of reinforcement by incorporating rich-to-lean transitions following incorrect responses with three boys diagnosed with autism. In the rich-to-rich condition, there was no differential reinforcement and the more-preferred edible was presented regardless of correct responding. During the rich-to-lean condition, errors resulted in the participant receiving less-preferred edibles for the next three correct responses. In the final comparison, the rich-to-no reinforcement condition, errors resulted in no reinforcement for a single trial. The latter two conditions were the most efficient and effective procedures for improving accuracy for two of the three participants. This finding suggests that the aversive properties of rich-to-lean transitions might function to correct errors in the context of differential reinforcement.




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