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 #279
Current Research on Behavioral Persistence and Relapse With Humans and Nonhuman Animals
Monday, May 30, 2016
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
Zurich FG, Swissotel
Area: EAB/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Toshikazu Kuroda (Aichi Bunkyo University)
Discussant: Mark E. Bouton (University of Vermont)

This symposium will present current research on behavioral persistence and relapse. The persistence of problem behavior and the recovery of once-extinguished behavior following treatment are common issues in applied/clinical settings. Findings from laboratory settings suggest some variables relevant to the issues. Ribeiro, Kelley and Tanz point out that noncontingent reinforcement, which is a common technique for decreasing problem behavior, may actually increase its persistence in children diagnosed with autism. Ferreira and Canado show that behavioral persistence can partially be determined by the dependency between a response and the reinforcer that follows it. Abreu-Rodrigues, Canado, Ferreira and Siqueira, and Kuroda, Podlesnik and Canado, show that the manipulations of contextual stimuli (i.e., renewal procedures) also affect the degree of resurgence in rats and humans. Our discussant, Mark Bouton, will address implications of these studies. This symposium should be informative for both basic and applied researchers.

Keyword(s): Autism, Non-human Animals, Renewal, Resurgence

Non-Contingent Reinforcement and Behavioral Persistence: A Translational Evaluation

AURELIA RIBEIRO (Florida Tech), Michael E. Kelley (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment, Florida Institute of Technology), Jeanine R Tanz (The Scott Center for Autism Treatment at Florida I)

We evaluated the persistence-strengthening effects of noncontingent reinforcement (NCR) and some factors that may interfere with maintenance of treatment effects. Basic, translational, and applied research have demonstrated that the resistance of a given response rate to change depends on the baseline overall rate of reinforcement, regardless of response rate, such that the greater the rate of reinforcement the greater the resistance of behavior to change. These findings suggest that adding reinforcers to a context in which problem behavior has been reinforced (as it is usually the case with NCR) is likely to increase behavioral persistence when treatment is challenged. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of NCR on behavioral persistence during extinction (Experiment 1), with five children with autism, and during other disruption procedures (Experiment 2), with three autistic children. Basically, we compared responding during disruption following a reinforcement only condition and responding during disruption following a condition with both contingent and non-contingent reinforcement. Results from Experiment 1 were not consistent across participants and may be related to the procedure used to test for resistance. In Experiment 2, we found that behavioral persistence was greater after NCR for all three participants, which replicates previous findings on behavioral persistence.


Response-Reinforcer Dependency and Resistance to Change: A Parametric Analysis

FLAVIA FERREIRA (Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil), Carlos Renato Xavier Cancado (Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil)

A parametric analysis was conducted with four rats to investigate the effects of different percentages of response-dependent food on resistance to change. Lever pressing was maintained under a three-component multiple schedule with the same rate of food in each component. The percentage of response-dependent food was 10 and 100 in the first and second components, respectively, throughout the study. The percentage in the third (Alternative) component varied across conditions from 10 to 80 for each rat. In each component, interfood intervals were variable. Responding in the first component (10%) consistently was more resistant to change than that in the second component (100%). When the percentage of response-dependent food was 10, 20, or 30 in the third component, resistance to change approximated that in the first component. When it was 50 or 80, resistance to change was closer to that in the second component. Overall, resistance to change was an inverse function of the percentage of response-dependent food. Replicating previous findings, these results suggest that resistance to change is at least partially determined by aspects of the response-reinforcer relation.


Effects of Contextual Stimuli on Resurgence

JOSELE ABREU RODRIGUES (Universidade de Brasilia), Carlos Cancado (Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil), FlÁvia Ferreira (Universidade de Brasilia), �talo Siqueira (Universidade de Brasilia)

The effects of contextual stimuli on resurgence were studied in two experiments with rats. In each, lever pressing was reinforced on a multiple variable-interval (VI) 20 s VI 20 s schedule in the Training phase. In the Elimination and Test phases, respectively, a differential-reinforcement-of other-behavior schedule (DRO) and extinction were in effect in each component. Contextual stimuli (houselight illumination patterns) were manipulated across components and phases. In Experiment 1, contextual stimuli were similar across phases in one component (AAA, with letters representing the context in each phase); in the other component (ABA), contextual stimuli changed from Training to Elimination phase, but in the Test phase, the context was similar to that in effect in the Training phase. In Experiment 2, the context changed from Training to Elimination phase in both components. In the Test phase, the context was that in effect in the Elimination phase in one component (ABB), and that in effect in the Training phase in the other component (ABA). Resurgence of greater magnitude occurred in the ABA than in the other component for all rats in Experiment 1, and for two of three rats in Experiment 2, indicating the relevance of contextual control for conceptualizations of resurgence.

Effects of ABA and ABB Contextual Changes on Resurgence in Rapid Assessment Procedures for Humans
TOSHIKAZU KURODA (Aichi Bunkyo University), Christopher A. Podlesnik (Florida Institute of Technology), Carlos Cancado (Universidade de Brasilia, Brazil)
Abstract: It remains unclear whether resurgence and renewal can combine to determine relapse effects. The present study tested this question in a rapid assessment procedure for humans. Resurgence was assessed by first reinforcing button pressing as the target response in Phase 1 in a computerized task. In Phase 2, target responding was extinguished while a concurrently available alternative response was reinforced. In Phase 3, extinction was in effect for both responses. The three phases were in effect within a single laboratory visit. Moreover, contextual stimuli were manipulated through changes in the background color of the computer screen across the three phases according to either an ABA or ABB renewal preparation, counterbalanced across participants for the sequence of exposure. Target responding extinguished more quickly with the second exposure to extinction in Context B (Phase 2), but resurgence generally was greater when returning to Context A than when remaining in Context B. These findings suggest that the reinforcer- and stimulus-control processes underlying relapse procedures can combine to determine relapse effects. Additionally, these methods provide a rapid way to assess these processes in humans.



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