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 #216
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Research on Renewal and Resurgence: Bridging the Gap Between Basic and Applied Research
Sunday, May 30, 2021
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Area: DDA/EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Michael P. Kranak (Oakland University)
Discussant: Christopher A. Podlesnik (Auburn University)
CE Instructor: Christopher A. Podlesnik, Ph.D.

The reemergence of extinguished behavior is broadly referred to as relapse. Relapse can be especially concerning in the treatment of problem behavior, as relapse can lead to eventual treatment failure. Two forms of relapse particularly relevant in the treatment of problem behavior are renewal and resurgence. Renewal is the reemergence of an extinguished response following a context change. Resurgence is the reemergence of an extinguished response following a worsening of reinforcement conditions for an alternative response. Mitigating relapse requires both advancing our understanding of the phenomena (often achieved through basic research) and further identification of treatment variables and their potential interactions (often achieved through applied research). The symposium is comprised of two basic and two applied investigations focused on the advanced understanding of relapse and relevant treatment variables and interactions. Findings from these investigations, areas for future research, and clinical implications will be discussed.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): punishment, relapse, renewal, resurgence
Target Audience:

Target audience includes practitioners and applied researchers with a BCBA or BCBA-D, as well as basic researchers with at least a graduate degree. It is also appropriate for psychologists who conduct behavioral assessments and treatments.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) identify clinical variables related relapse; (2) describe the role context plays in renewal as related to basic and applied preparations; (3) describe how worsening of reinforcement conditions can lead to resurgence; and (4) understand the importance of both basic and applied research in studying relapse.

Examining Contextual Control in Children With Automatically Reinforced Problem Behavior

(Applied Research)
ALEXIS CONSTANTIN PAVLOV (Marcus Autism Center, Emory School of Medicine), Colin S. Muething (Marcus Autism Center, Emory School of Medicine), Nathan Call (Marcus Autism Center, Emory School of Medicine)

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%).

On the Scope and Characteristics of Treatment Relapse During Clinical Service Delivery
(Applied Research)
BRIAN D. GREER (CSH-RUCARES, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Kayla Rechelle Randall (Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health), Sarah D Haney (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Daniel R. Mitteer (CSH–RUCARES, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)
Abstract: Prior studies examining prevalence of treatment relapse have been limited in terms of relapse type analyzed (i.e., resurgence or renewal), type of clinical service evaluated (e.g., only treatments for destructive behavior), and responding assessed (i.e., only problem behavior). In the present study, we examined both resurgence and renewal across two clinical programs—a Severe Behavior Program and a Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program. We also analyzed disruption of alternative behavior. Results showed (a) treatment relapse occurred across all functions of problem behavior addressed, (b) problem behavior recurrence predicted alternative response disruption, (c) alternative response disruption predicted problem behavior recurrence, (d) the co-occurrence of these two events always equaled or exceeded the background probabilities of either event occurring in isolation, and (e) general reductions in treatment efficacy occurred across transition types with no apparent decrease in likelihood with later transitions.

The Effects of Fading Between Reinforcement and Extinction Contexts on Operant Renewal

(Basic Research)
MICHAEL KOEGEL (SUNY Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Charlene Nicole Agnew (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Kate Elizabeth Derrenbacker (SUNY Upstate Medical University ), Emily L. Baxter (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Henry S. Roane (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)

An increase in the frequency of previously extinguished behavior following a change to the context in which extinction took place is termed “renewal.” In ABA renewal, for example, a response that is reinforced in one context (Context A) during baseline and extinguished in a second context (Context B) during treatment may renew if stimuli associated with Context A are represented. The present experiment assessed whether fading from Context B to Context A during treatment reduces renewal of rats’ lever pressing when Context A is represented. Specific visual, olfactory, and tactile stimuli were associated with Contexts A and B. For one group, the stimuli that signaled Context A were faded systematically into the rats’ chambers across treatment sessions while Context-B stimuli were faded out simultaneously. A second group experienced the same fading procedure but in the opposite order: Context-A stimuli were faded out of the chambers across sessions of treatment while Context-B stimuli were faded in. A third group experienced a standard ABA renewal preparation as described above as a control procedure. Data collection is ongoing. Findings from this research may have implications for treatment strategies aimed at reducing renewal of problematic human behavior during context changes following treatment.

Resurgence of Punishment-Suppressed Alcohol Seeking in Rats
(Basic Research)
GABRIELLE MARIE-ANNE SUTTON (Utah State University), Anthony Nathan Nist (Utah State University), Kaitlyn Browning (Utah State University), Rusty Nall (Utah State University), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)
Abstract: Resurgence refers to an increase in previously suppressed behavior following a relative worsening of conditions for a more recently reinforced alternative behavior. Resurgence of extinguished alcohol-seeking has been demonstrated in rats, but alcohol seeking of humans is thought to be the result of increasing negative consequences, rather than extinction. Thus, this study examined resurgence of punishment-suppressed alcohol seeking of rats. During Phase 1, target responses produced dippers of 20% alcohol. During Phase 2, alcohol remained available, but all rats received intermittent foot-shocks for target responses. For rats in a differential reinforcement of alternative behavior group (DRA), an alternative response was also reinforced with food. During Phase 3, all responses were placed on extinction such that neither food nor alcohol was available, and punishment was removed. Suppression of alcohol-seeking during Phase 2 was comparable across groups. Resurgence was greater in the punishment plus DRA group compared to the punishment only group. By demonstrating resurgence of alcohol seeking previously suppressed by negative consequences this procedure may provide an animal model of resurgence of alcohol seeking with increased translational utility.



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