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.


46th Annual Convention; Washington DC; 2020

Event Details

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Symposium #207
CE Offered: BACB
Translational and Applied Investigations of Renewal
Sunday, May 24, 2020
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Level 1, Salon G
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Sarah D Haney (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)
Discussant: Christopher A. Podlesnik (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Sarah D Haney, M.A.

Renewal refers to the return of a previously extinguished behavior followed by a context change (e.g., clinic to home). When the behavior is undesirable (e.g., aggression), renewal can threaten the durability of intervention effects. Therefore, it is particularly relevant to study renewal in applied populations given that context changes are often necessary for intervention generality and maintenance. The purpose of this symposium will be to review recent translational and applied investigations of renewal. This symposium will consist of four presentations followed by comments from Dr. Christopher Podlesnik. First, Dr. Alexis Pavlov will present an evaluation of contextual control during intervention for children with problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. Second, Abigail Blackman will discuss an evaluation of renewal of desirable behavior in a simulated workplace with neurotypical adults. Third, Sarah Haney will present on a mitigation procedure for renewal of inappropriate mealtime behavior during intervention for pediatric feeding disorders. Fourth, Dr. Valdeep Saini will present a translational renewal evaluation and discuss implications of evaluating operant renewal in human subjects for theory and practice.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Practitioners, BCBAs, faculty, graduate students, researchers, and professionals

Learning Objectives: Attendees will be able to: 1. Define renewal, 2. Define contextual control, 3. Identify renewal and contextual control in clinical practice, 4. Identify procedures aimed at mitigating renewal, and 5. Describe behavioral processes relevant for studying renewal in socially meaningful contexts.

Examining Contextual Control in Children With Automatically Reinforced Problem Behavior

ALEXIS CONSTANTIN PAVLOV (Marcus Autism Center), Colin S. Muething (Marcus Autism Center), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center)

The reemergence of problem behavior after extinction during context changes is referred to as renewal. Estimates for the prevalence of renewal for problem behavior maintained by social reinforcement indicate that renewal occurs in approximately 42% of observed context changes (i.e., location or person; Muething et al., 2019). However, when examining the reemergence of automatically reinforced problem behavior during the same context changes, extinction may not be an active component of treatment, and therefore any increase in problem behavior cannot be classified as renewal. Rather, contextual control may better explain this phenomenon. In the absence of extinction, context changes could result in increases in the automatically reinforced problem behavior based on different learning histories in different contexts. For example, returning to a home context where the problem behavior was previously observed may result in an increase. This study examined 38 context changes in a consecutive controlled case-series design (Hagopian, Rooker, Jessel, & DeLeon, 2013) for children with automatically reinforced problem behavior in an intensive outpatient program. Reemergence of problem behavior during those context changes was found in 12 of the examined changes (31%).

Operant Renewal of Desirable Behavior in a Simulated Workplace: A Translational Model
ABIGAIL BLACKMAN (University of Kansas), Matthew Novak (University of Kansas), Tyler Erath (University of Kansas), Florence D. DiGennaro Reed (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Organizational settings are replete with changing stimulus contexts and contingencies, which makes renewal a particularly relevant framework for understanding the ways in which controlling stimuli influence employee responding. Due to limited research on operant renewal with neurotypical adults and given its applicability to organizational behavior management research and practice, we sought to assess renewal of desirable behavior in a simulated workplace. This presentation will share findings of an experiment with undergraduate student participants who learned to implement a behavior-analytic teaching procedure (i.e., discrete trial teaching). Participants implemented discrete trials in two different color-correlated experimental rooms, which served as the contextual changes across phases. Results demonstrated renewal of desirable behavior for all participants. The current methodology and findings extend the human operant literature on renewal and demonstrates a translational model that brings together operant renewal and organizational behavior management. Implications of these findings as they apply to training staff and future research will be presented.

An Evaluation of a Mitigation Procedure for Renewal of Inappropriate Mealtime Behavior

SARAH D HANEY (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center), Cathleen C. Piazza (Rutgers University), Kathryn M. Peterson (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute), Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)

Renewal is the increase in inappropriate behavior during extinction-based intervention when the intervention context changes. Renewal is likely to occur during intervention for inapapropriate mealtime behavior because children eat in many different contexts (e.g., home, school; Ibañez et al., 2019). In the current study, we tested for renewal and evaluated a renewal-mitigation procedure when we changed the context from a therapist to a caregiver as feeder and from the clinic to the home. We used an ABA arrangement to evaluate the efficacy of our mitigation procedure with 6 children with feeding disorders. We randomly assigned targets to the renewal or renewal-mitigation condition and randomly assigned the order of the renewal test. Context A was function-based reinforcement. Context B was function-based extinction during the renewal condition or function-based extinction with caregiver fading, context similarity, or both during the mitigation condition. The return to Context A was function-based extinction. We observed renewal in the renewal condition for 3 children, and our mitigation procedure prevented renewal in the mitigation condition for 3 children. We discuss the clinical implications of these results and directions for future research.

Operant Renewal with Human Subjects: Implications for Theory and Practice
VALDEEP SAINI (Brock University), Daniel R. Mitteer (University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute)
Abstract: Operant renewal could serve as a model of treatment relapse in humans, which suggests that a change in stimulus conditions or context is sufficient to produce relapse of a previously eliminated maladaptive behavior. However, the extent to which general findings from operant renewal studies involving nonhuman animal subjects are supported by relapse studies involving human subjects is unknown. First, we conducted a systematic review of studies demonstrating or mitigating operant renewal in human subjects and found that the renewal effect was a robust phenomenon, supported by demonstrations in both clinical and human-laboratory studies, across a variety of variables and experimental preparations. However, there were relatively few studies involving human subjects that attempted to eliminate renewal of clinically meaningful behavior. Second, we translated the AAB nonhuman animal model of operant renewal to children with developmental disabilities who engaged in severe problem behavior. Preliminary results did not replicate nonhuman animal research. We discuss behavioral processes relevant for studying renewal in socially meaningful contexts, practical limitations of observing the renewal effect in real-world settings, and identify barriers to methodology unique to human subjects. We provide directions for future research related to implementing and translating nonhuman animal studies of renewal to applied settings.



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