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 #229
CE Offered: BACB
Basic and Applied Research on Response Dynamics: Implications for the Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior
Monday, May 30, 2016
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Zurich D, Swissotel
Area: EAB/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Laura L. Grow (University of British Columbia)
Discussant: Jonathan W. Pinkston (University of North Texas)
CE Instructor: Laura L. Grow, Ph.D.
Abstract: The results of basic research on the dynamics of responses during reinforcement and extinction can inform applied studies related to the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior (Notterman & Mintz, 1965). Response force is a clinically and socially relevant dimension of behavior, although few applied studies have been conducted on the force of responses during the assessment and treatment of problem behavior. This symposium will include four studies that are a combination of basic and applied studies related to the force of responses and behavioral variability during reinforcement and extinction. The first study is a basic study on the force of responses during periods of extinction among college students. The second and third studies evaluated the force of button pressing during continuous and intermittent reinforcement and extinction among individuals with developmental disabilities. The final presentation is an applied study that examined the rate and variability of response topographies during functional analyses of problem behavior. We will discuss the implications of the results in terms of the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior and areas for future research.
Keyword(s): force, functional analysis, problem behavior

Effort-Related Processes Modulate Extinction Bursts

Jonathan W. Pinkston (University of North Texas), BRYANNA LILLY (University of North Texas)

Previous research in the treatment of severe behavior problems has found the appearance of extinction bursts following the suspension of reinforcer delivery is less than common, and similar findings have been found in basic human operant research. In contrast, extinction bursts have been reported widely in animal research following suspension of reinforcer delivery, leading some to suggest a difference between humans and non-humans. We propose that extinction bursts, in fact, have not received a thorough functional analysis, and it may be premature to conclude lack of consistent findings with humans are due to species differences. The present study was designed to clarify the role response topography and stimulus modality may play in promoting extinction bursts. Twenty-five human participants watched a preferred video. Across groups, the audio or video stream was removed from playback, leaving the other stream intact. Participants could restore the video/audio stream by pressing a force-sensitive button, where either low (250 g) or high (750 g) forces were required to restore playback. At 20 and 30 minutes into the session, video/audio streams were removed, but participants could not restore playback for 20 s. The results showed that extinction bursting was more likely when baseline forces were lower and when audio streams were removed compared to the removal of video. The findings suggest that the wide variability in the observation of extinction bursts may be due to incidental differences in response topographies. Specifically, high-force topographies appear less likely to result in “bursting” during extinction. Also, reinforcer modality is shown to alter the likelihood and extent of extinction bursts.

Force and Frequency of Button Pressing During Progressive Ratio Schedules and Extinction in Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
NABIL MEZHOUDI (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Griffin Rooker (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jennifer R. Zarcone (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Alyssa Fisher (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Jessica Del Carmen Garcia (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Chris Dillon (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Louis P. Hagopian (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Research on operant behavior often focuses exclusively on response frequency because it is a convenient measure and easier to quantify than are changes in other dimensions such as topography (form) or force. However, basic and applied research have consistently demonstrated that contingencies on response frequency also affect response force. This finding is particularly relevant for individuals who engage in severe problem behavior (aggression, self-injury, etc.), where the force of the response is a defining feature of the behavior and varying schedules of reinforcement and extinction are common in treatment. This study evaluated changes in the frequency, and the collateral effects on force, of reinforcing button pressing (as an analogue) during a progressive ratio schedule and then the cessation of reinforcement (extinction) for seven individuals diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), who also engaged in severe problem behavior. Results suggest several commonalities with the published research, as well as some differences, and shed new light on how contingencies on response force affect the force of responding within the IDD population.

The History of Reinforcement Affects the Force and Rate of Responses During Extinction

OFELIA M. FLORES (University of British Columbia), Laura L. Grow (University of British Columbia)

Previous basic studies have demonstrated how different schedules of reinforcement affect the rate and force of responses (Notterman & Mintz 1965). The results of basic studies on force are relevant for applied studies on the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior. The present study evaluated the force and rate of button pressing during continuous and intermittent reinforcement and extinction. We conducted two experiments with three children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. In Experiment 1, two conditions were compared using a reversal design (i.e., intermittent reinforcement and extinction). In Experiment 2, three conditions were compared in a sequence using a reversal design (i.e., intermittent reinforcement, continuous reinforcement, and extinction). In summary, the results across both experiments demonstrated how changes in the schedule of reinforcement affected the rate and force of responses. The results will be discussed in terms of future applied research on the force of problem behavior during assessment and function-based intervention.


Changes in Response Topographies During Sessions of Functional Analysis of Problem Behavior

VARSOVIA HERNANDEZ ESLAVA (University of Florida), Jonathan K Fernand (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)

Functional Analysis (FA) methodology has become the hallmark of behavioral assessment and plenty of studies have been conducted to refine its procedures (Hanley, Iwata, & McCord, 2003). However, there is almost no research about changes in the variation of target responses as the assessment progresses. The purpose of the current study was to describe changes in the number and rate of aggression topographies observed during demand sessions of FA for four participants whose problem behavior maintained by escape. The results showed that for all participants the number of topographies decreased from the first to the last session. Also, the rate of responding for one particular topography either increased or remained at high levels after the first session while the remaining topographies of response decreased in rate. The implications of the decrease in variability in topographies of response when conducting FAs for problem behavior will be discussed as well as how this relates to research on modification of response classes.




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