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.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #454
CE Offered: BACB
Some Effects of Reinforcer Delay and Reinforcement Rate in the Acquisition or Maintenance of Behavior
Monday, May 31, 2010
3:00 PM–4:20 PM
217A (CC)
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
CE Instructor: Mary McDonald, Ph.D.
Abstract: Among the reinforcement parameters that influence the acquisition and maintenance of behavior, two will be highlighted: reinforcer delay and reinforcement rate. When a new skill is taught, reinforcer delay is often minimal and reinforcement rate is often rich. However, when acquired skills are to be maintained in natural settings (e.g., classrooms) and at practical levels, the inverse is often programmed (larger delays and lower reinforcement rates). The first presentation will summarize findings on the acquisition of academic skills under conditions of sporadic training and under more intensive training conditions. The results are prescriptive for the design of intervention strategies when learning progresses slowly. The second presentation involves an evaluation of schedule thinning in the context of mixed and multiple schedules, when reinforcement density is also manipulated. The interactive effects of schedule correlated stimuli and reductions in reinforcement density are described. The third presentation will focus on the role of delay and response rate. Results will be described using a quantitative model of behavior and the role of intervening activities, during delays, will be reported. The final presentation will focus on overall levels of responding when delays are systematically imposed. Parallels between increasing delays and increasing response requirements will be discussed.
Examination of Effects of Increasing Rate of Exposure to Training Trials on Response Acquisition
MELISSA EZOLD (New England Center for Children), Jason C. Bourret (New England Center for Children)
Abstract: In the current study we examined the effects of increasing the rate of exposure to training sessions on response acquisition. Academic objectives for two participants diagnosed with autism were selected for inclusion in the study due to lack of progress. During baseline, teaching sessions were conducted once or twice per day, five days per week. During treatment, massed teaching sessions were conducted for one hour per day, five days per week. Results showed that increasing the rate of exposure to training sessions increased the rate of skill acquisition per session. Findings are discussed in terms of the utility of manipulating the rate of training sessions as a general intervention to improve skill acquisition when learning is not occurring or is occurring too slowly.
A Comparison of Mixed and Multiple Schedules in the Treatment of Severe Problem Behavior
ALISON M. BETZ (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Wayne Fisher (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Henry S. Roane (SUNY, Upstate Medical University), William J. Higgins (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Abstract: Reinforcement schedule thinning is a critical component in the development of treatments for destructive behavior (e.g., like functional communication training [FCT]) because parents, teachers, and other caregivers are more likely to carry out interventions that are practical and not labor intensive. Most reinforcement thinning procedures involve two components: (a) discriminative stimuli that signal periods of reinforcement and extinction for the alternative response (as in multiple schedules) and (b) gradual reductions in the density of reinforcement for the alternative response. However, the independent and interactive effects of these two components have not been examined in prior research. In the current investigation, we conducted an analysis of these components by implementing reinforcer schedule thinning with and without correlated discriminative stimuli using multiple and mixed schedules, respectively. Although individual differences were observed across participants, the results generally suggested that both components (correlated discriminative stimuli and gradual changes in schedule density) were important for maintaining low levels of destructive behavior during reinforcement schedule thinning.
An Evaluation of Response Rates Under Progressively Increasing Delays to Reinforcement
JOLENE R. SY (University of Florida), Timothy R. Vollmer (University of Florida)
Abstract: The temporal proximity between a response and a reinforcer has been recognized as one of the most important parameters of reinforcer value (Williams, 1976). Basic research has found that unsignaled delays produce rapid reductions in response rates. However, fewer applied investigations have examined the effects of delayed reinforcement. Two children, both age 5, diagnosed with developmental disabilities participated at their school. The purpose of the present investigation was to (a) determine whether delayed reinforcement could maintain similar response rates as immediate reinforcement on an arbitrary computer task, (b) identify maximum reinforcement delays that maintained responding (“breakpoints”), (c) determine whether the relationship between response rate and reinforcer delay could be quantified by a modified version of Mazur’s (1987) hyperbolic discounting equation, and (d) determine whether the availability of alternative responses could disrupt reinforcement effects. We found that both participants continued to respond under progressively increasing delays to reinforcement, that “breakpoints” varied across sessions, that response rates could be adequately characterized by a discounting function, and that the availability of alternative responses during the delays interfered with reinforcement effects. Results indicate that reinforcement delays may only disrupt responding if the participant engages in topographically similar responses during the delay interval.
Delayed Food Supports More Responding Than Delayed Tokens
YANERYS LEON (Kennedy Krieger Institute), John C. Borrero (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Iser Guillermo DeLeon (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Multiple reinforcement parameters may contribute to the price of a commodity. For example, if work requirement remains constant, but reinforcers are delayed, the delay may be conceptualized as the essential “cost” component. An equation that accounts for delay might prove beneficial when examining UP in matters of clinical importance. Although several reinforcement parameters likely influence responding, the ubiquitous nature of delay in applied settings makes it an especially important parameter for further study. Temporal discounting research has demonstrated that primary reinforcers are discounted more steeply than conditioned reinforcers. This study examined the effects of delayed reinforcement on the responding of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Three conditions were evaluated: (a) No reinforcement baseline, in which responses did not produce a reinforcer, (b) FR 1 No Delay, in which responses produced a reinforcer immediately, and (c) FR 1 Increasing Delay, in which responses produced a reinforcer following one of 5 delays. These conditions were evaluated with primary reinforcers and then repeated with conditioned reinforcers. Current results suggest that delayed food produced greater response persistence when compared to delayed tokens. Results are discussed in terms of the implications for token systems given delayed exchange opportunities.



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