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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Symposium #154
CE Offered: BACB
Stimulus and Consequence Variables that Influence Response Persistence and Resurgence: Translational Evidence and Applied Demonstration
Sunday, May 25, 2014
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
W187c (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Joel Eric Ringdahl (Southern Illinois University)
Discussant: William V. Dube (E.K. Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School)
CE Instructor: Joel Eric Ringdahl, Ph.D.

There has been a recent increase in the variables that impact the maintenance, response strength, and relapse of behavior targeted for change in applied contexts. The focus of much of this research has been the application of behavioral momentum theory (BMT) to the assessment, treatment, and treatment maintenance related to problem behavior. In this group of presentations, data will be presented that focuses of various consequence and stimulus variables that may impact human behavior in translational and applied contexts. Collectively, the results of this group of studies suggest that variables other than reinforcer rate, magnitude of reinforcement, etc. can impact response maintenance, strength and relapse. The results of these studies have direct implications for designing effective treatments for individuals who engage in severe problem behavior and will be discussed with respect to treatment design, BMT, and programming for the long-term effectiveness of behavioral treatments for those individuals.

Keyword(s): BMT, maintenance, relapse, response persistence
Comparing Response Persistence to Autism Symptom Severity during Operant and Respondent Procedures
LAURA MELTON GRUBB (Texas Tech University), Adam Brewer (Texas Tech University), David M. Richman (Texas Tech University), Layla Abby (Texas Tech University)
Abstract: Autism is characterized in part by restricted repetitive responses that typically persist despite environmental changes. This response pattern may be related to behavioral momentum theory, which makes predictions about when responding is likely to persist despite disruption in the environment. We compared response persistence during operant and respondent procedures for two individuals with matched levels of adaptive behavior, but disparate severity of autism symptoms. Both participants were exposed to two disruptors (alternative stimulus and concurrent-distracting stimulus), in a reversal plus alternating treatments design. Rate of math problems completed was the dependent measure. Response rates for the high autism symptom severity participant were not disrupted, regardless of type of procedure or disruptor. By contrast, responding for the participant with low autism symptom severity was disrupted only by the alternative stimulus in the operant procedure. Responding for this participant was more disrupted during the lean schedule than in the rich schedule—consistent with behavioral momentum theory. These results suggest differences in response persistence in the operant paradigm may be a function of ASD symptom severity, and that the most effective disruptor was an alternative stimulus.
An Evaluation of Resistance to Change with Unconditioned and Conditioned Reinforcers
KRISTINA VARGO (Sam Houston State University), Joel Eric Ringdahl (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: Several variables have been shown to influence a response’s resistance to change including rate, magnitude, and delay to reinforcement (Nevin, 1974). Type of reinforcement (i.e., conditioned and unconditioned) is a reinforcer-related variable that has not been studied with humans, but may have clinical implications. In Experiment 1, we identified unconditioned and conditioned reinforcers of equal preference. In Experiment 2, we reinforced the behavior of five participants during a baseline phase using a mult VI 30 s VI 30 s schedule with either a conditioned (i.e., token) or unconditioned reinforcer (i.e., food). Following equal reinforcement rates across components, extinction was introduced as a disruptor. All participants showed greater resistance to extinction in the component associated with the conditioned reinforcer than the unconditioned reinforcer. In Experiment 3 and Experiment 4, four participants experienced a baseline phase that was the same as Experiment 1 (i.e., mult VI 30 s VI 30 s). Each participant was then exposed to distraction and prefeeding as disruptors in separate analyses. Results of Experiment 3 showed that behaviors were more resistant to distraction with conditioned than unconditioned reinforcers, similar to Experiment 2. However, when prefeeding disrupted responding (Experiment 4), greater resistance to change was observed with unconditioned reinforcers.

The Relation between Reinforcer Potency and the Persistence of Task Completion

PATRICK ROMANI (The University of Iowa), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Nicole H. Lustig (The University of Iowa), Brooke M. Holland (The University of Iowa)

The current investigation evaluated the effect of reinforcer potency on the persistence of task completion for a participant (Nick) who engaged in problem behavior to escape from demands. Interobserver agreement was calculated on at least 30% of each condition and averaged 98%. During Phase 1, a unit price evaluation was conducted to evaluate the potency of two stimuli (raisins and iPad). Nick chose to complete two times the amount of work to earn raisins over iPad, suggesting that raisins were the more potent reinforcer. During Phase 2, baseline data for Nick's task completion were collected within a multiple schedules design. Task completion was placed on extinction during this phase. In contrast, task completion was reinforced on a continuous schedule of reinforcement with access to iPad when Nick worked for orange tokens and raisins when Nick worked for yellow tokens during Phase 3. Extinction (Phase 4) was implemented after establishing similar histories of reinforcement for the orange and yellow stimulus conditions. Results showed that task completion under the stimulus condition associated with the delivery of raisins, or the more potent reinforcer, persisted longer under extinction conditions. These data will be discussed in terms of their basic and applied implications.


Stimulus- and Consequent- Control Refinement of Functional Communication Training Using Behavioral Momentum Theory

WAYNE W. FISHER (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

One function-based approach to the treatment of destructive behavior with considerable empirical support is functional communication training (FCT). Although FCT has been shown to be highly effective when implemented in controlled environments by well-trained therapists, treatment relapse often occurs when a caregiver is unable to accurately carry out the procedures in the natural environment. For example, a caregiver of a child with severe aggression may be unable to deliver the functional reinforcer (e.g., attention) when the child emits the functional communication response (FCR) because the caregiver is attending to a sick sibling. During this time when the FCR is exposed to extinction, the childs aggression often increases, a form of relapse called resurgence. Behavioral momentum theory (BMT) provides a quantitative method for making stimulus- and consequence- control refinements to FCT that can function as behavioral inoculation so that treatment relapse in the form of resurgence of destructive behavior is greatly mitigated or prevented altogether. Interestingly, some predictions of BMT are somewhat counterintuitive and in direct opposition to clinical procedures recommended as best practices by prominent clinical researchers. In this presentation, I will discuss these refinements of FCT along with illustrative data sets and potential directions for future research.




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