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.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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Symposium #20
Recent Findings on Treatment Relapse Using Translational Research Preparations
Saturday, May 29, 2021
9:00 AM–9:50 AM
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kayla Rechelle Randall (Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health)

Extensive research has demonstrated the efficacy of interventions using differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) for reducing undesirable behavior. Although these interventions are efficacious, empirical studies have demonstrated that DRA treatments often fail to maintain behavior reductions under challenging conditions. For example, changes in context and reductions in treatment fidelity often cause undesirable behavior to recur. When problem behavior returns following initially efficacious interventions, this is generally known as treatment relapse. Research has shown that treatment relapse is a highly prevalent phenomenon in clinical settings, suggesting an urgent need to understand the variables affecting relapse and the development of mitigation strategies to minimize its occurrence. Translational research is beneficial for manipulating the relevant variables present during treatment challenges using precisely controlled procedures, providing researchers with knowledge that can be used to develop techniques to enhance the durability of DRA interventions in applied settings. In this symposium, our presenters will share their recent research on treatment relapse following DRA interventions using translational preparations. Implications for such findings for individuals with problem behavior and future endeavors for treatment relapse research will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): renewal, resurgence, translational research, treatment relapse
Resurgence Following Traditional and Interdependent Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior
ASHLEY MARIE FUHRMAN (Rutgers University and Children's Specialized Hospital), Wayne W. Fisher (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)
Abstract: Clinicians frequently prescribe functional communication training (FCT) as a treatment for severe destructive behavior. Recent research has shown that FCT treatments are susceptible to treatment relapse in the form of resurgence of destructive behavior when individuals contact periods in which reinforcers are unavailable. Behavioral Momentum Theory (BMT) is a quantitative model of behavior researchers have employed to predict treatment relapse when the reinforcement component of FCT is suspended, which may occur when a caregiver is unable to implement treatment. Although many studies support the accuracy of BMT, it does not provide predictions for training multiple alternative responses during FCT, which recent research suggests can decrease resurgence. A novel theory of resurgence, Resurgence as Choice (RaC), allows researchers to test predictions of programming multiple alternative responses. The current study used a translational arrangement to evaluate the effects of training one alternative response versus multiple alternative responses on the resurgence of target behavior. Findings showed that multiple-response training did not decrease resurgence of target responding consistently; however, it increased the total amount of responding observed during the resurgence phase and decreased the overall probability of the target response.
Comparing the Effects of Dense and Lean Schedules of Differential Alternative Reinforcement on Operant Renewal
EMILY FERRIS (University of Saint Joseph), Ryan Kimball (University of Saint Joseph), John Silveira Jr. (University of Saint Joseph), Abigail Horner (University of Saint Joseph)
Abstract: Operant renewal is a form of treatment relapse that occurs when a previously suppressed response reemerges due to a change in context. Previous research has demonstrated that renewal of target responding may occur despite the availability of differential reinforcement for an alternative response (DRA). Nevertheless, the current literature on renewal presents mixed findings regarding the impact of dense and lean schedules of DRA on the magnitude of renewal. We used a translational approach to study the effects of dense and lean schedules of DRA with undergraduate college students and a simulated computer task. All participants experienced two, three-phase ABA renewal arrangements in which we counterbalanced the order of exposure to the dense and lean renewal tests. In the dense and lean renewal arrangements, we differentially reinforced alternative behavior in Context B and the renewal test in Context A on a VI 3-s or a VI 12-s schedule, respectively. The results of this study suggest that although renewal is possible in both arrangements, a higher magnitude of renewal may be more likely with a lean schedule of reinforcement versus a dense schedule. We discuss the potential implications for future research on renewal and the treatment of severe destructive behavior.
Effects of Combining Contextual Changes, Omission Errors, and Commission Errors on Target and Alternative Behavior
SEAN SMITH (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Children’s Specialized Hospital), Daniel R. Mitteer (Rutgers University - Children's Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services), Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Kayla Rechelle Randall (Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health), Ryan Kimball (University of Saint Joseph)
Abstract: Most studies examining treatment relapse during functional communication training have assessed child target behavior (e.g., destructive behavior) and alternative behavior (e.g., communication response) when contextual changes occur with perfect treatment integrity or when omission errors (i.e., extinction for the alternative response) occur in the absence of a context change. Mitteer et al. (2018) found that caregivers tended to make omission and commission errors by occasionally withholding reinforcement following communication requests or delivering reinforcement following destructive behavior, respectively, during contextual changes or increased destructive behavior. No studies have examined the combination of contextual changes and omission and commission errors. In this experiment, three children with autism spectrum disorder (a) emitted a target response (i.e., pad touch) for a preferred item in a home-like context, (b) emitted an alternative response (e.g., card touch) for that preferred item in a clinic context while the target response was extinguished, and (c) experienced a combined-relapse test in which the experimenter programmed the same rates and types of errors that caregivers made in Mitteer et al. within the home-like context. During the combined-relapse test, target behavior equaled or exceeded baseline ranges in all cases and alternative behavior extinguished in two cases.



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