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.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #204
CE Offered: BACB
Recent Translational Research on Effects of Parameters of Reinforcement on Resurgence
Sunday, May 29, 2022
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Meeting Level 1; Room 152
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Christopher A. Podlesnik (Auburn University)
Discussant: Rusty Nall (Jacksonville State University)
CE Instructor: Carolyn Ritchey, M.S.

Effective interventions for problem behavior (e.g., aggression, self-injury) are susceptible to relapse when treatment conditions change. For example, resurgence – increases in a previously reinforced and then extinguished target response – can occur with changes in parameters of reinforcement for an alternative response. Moreover, methods for decreasing a target response during treatment can differentially impact resurgence when treatment conditions change. Translational research on resurgence could facilitate the development of methods to better understand and mitigate relapse for individuals presenting with severe problem behavior. This symposium includes four presentations: Carolyn Ritchey and Sean Smith will present data from separate crowdsourcing studies evaluating predictions of a quantitative model of resurgence, Resurgence as Choice in Context (RaC2). RaC2 predicts differential resurgence as a function of (1) alternative-reinforcer rate and magnitude (Ritchey), and (2) duration of exposure to target and alternative reinforcement (Smith). Next, Cinthia Hernández and Carlos Flores will present data from a study with rats examining effects of parameters of target-response reinforcement during a simulated treatment phase on resurgence. Finally, Kate Derrenbacker will present data from a study with mice evaluating effects of alternative-reinforcer rate on resurgence. Dr. Rusty Nall will serve as discussant.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): quantitative models, relapse, resurgence, translational research
Target Audience:

Previous exposure to literature on (1) laboratory models of relapse (e.g., resurgence) and/or (2) quantitative modeling of behavioral data would be useful.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Define resurgence; (2) provide at least three examples of changes in reinforcement conditions that influence resurgence; (3) provide a rationale for using quantitative models to address empirical questions about resurgence.
A Quantitative Analysis of Effects of Parameters of Alternative Reinforcement on Resurgence
CARLA MARTINEZ-PEREZ (Auburn University), Sarah Cowie (University of Auckland, New Zealand), Toshikazu Kuroda (Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International), Carolyn Ritchey (Auburn University), Christopher Podlesnik (Auburn University)
Abstract: Resurgence occurs when a previously reinforced and then extinguished target response increases due to a worsening of reinforcement conditions for an alternative response. We conducted four crowdsourcing experiments to evaluate effects of alternative-reinforcer rate and magnitude on resurgence. We manipulated either the rate of point delivery for an alternative response across groups while holding the number of points constant (Experiment 1) or vice versa (Experiments 2-3). Experiment 4 arranged all combinations of high- or low-rate and high- or low-magnitude alternative reinforcement across groups. During extinction, we observed differential increases in target responding from Phase 2 as a function of reinforcer rate, but no effect of reinforcer magnitude. We fit a quantitative model of resurgence, Resurgence as Choice in Context (RaC2), to the data. RaC2 provided a poor fit, generally underpredicting target responding. The matching law upon which RaC2 is based states that reinforcers’ effect on choice depends upon control by the reinforcer ratio. Weaker control by reinforcers can result from misallocation, where reinforcers are (mis)allocated to a response that did not produce them. Thus, we added a misallocation parameter to RaC2, which improved fits and allowed the model to account for extinction data not otherwise predicted by the original model.
Phase Duration and Resurgence
SEAN SMITH (University of Florida), Brian D. Greer (Severe Behavior Program, Children’s Specialized Hospital–Rutgers University Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services (CSH–RUCARES); Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School)
Abstract: Resurgence, the recurrence of responding due to a worsening of reinforcement conditions for current behavior, is a prevalent form of treatment relapse. Resurgence as Choice in Context predicts that increasing the duration of exposure to reinforcement for target responding during Phase 1 will increase resurgence magnitude, whereas increasing the duration of exposure to reinforcement for alternative responding and extinction for target responding during Phase 2 will decrease resurgence magnitude. We conducted an experiment evaluating these predictions with human participants recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. We varied Phase 1 and Phase 2 durations across four experimental groups. Resurgence as Choice in Context successfully predicted the differences in resurgence magnitude across these groups, and fitting the quantitative model to the obtained data yielded an exceptional coefficient of determination. We discuss the implications of these results for using Resurgence as Choice in Context to inform experiments with human participants and the feasibility of using human-operant preparations to evaluate resurgence.

Worsening Target Responding on Resurgence: Extinction, Magnitude, Frequency, and Delay of Reinforcement

CINTHIA HERNANDEZ (Universidad de Guadalajara (CEIC)), Carlos Javier Flores Aguirre (Universidad de Guadalajara), Kenneth D. Madrigal (Universidad de Sonora)

Problem behavior can be decreased by means of extinction and reinforcement of an alternative behavior. However, when both types of responses are placed under extinction conditions, previously decreased behavior can recur. Under such procedure, target responding is decreased during a second phase by means of extinction. Similarly, behavior could also be decreased by means of changes in reinforcement parameters. In the current study, we explored the latter possibility by exposing rats to a resurgence procedure, in which target responding during phase 2 was decreased by means of extinction, magnitude, delay and frequency of reinforcement between conditions. For all rats, target-responding decreased when changes on reinforcement parameters were introduced; however, it only decreased to near-zero responses under extinction conditions. Resurgence was observed for all rats during the latter condition, while it partially occurred in the rest of the conditions for some of the rats. Our results suggest that abrupt parameter variations, which yield near-zero responses, are required prior resurgence could occur during test. Additional data suggests that resurgence can be observed after target-responding is thinned by gradual changes on reinforcement parameters.

The Effects of Alternative Reinforcement Rate on Resurgence in Mice
KATE ELIZABETH DERRENBACKER (SUNY Upstate Medical University ), Charlene Nicole Agnew (SUNY Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Henry S. Roane (Upstate Medical University and Elemy Autism Care), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)
Abstract: Resurgence is defined as the recurrence of a previously eliminated target behavior following a change in reinforcement for an alternative behavior. Previous research has investigated the effects of different procedural manipulations to determine the underlying mechanism of resurgence. For instance, research indicates that higher rates of alternative reinforcement not only lead to faster elimination of the target behavior but also result in a greater resurgence of that behavior when removed. The current research study aimed to replicate these effects in mice, a species in which resurgence has been demonstrated only recently. Groups of mice were exposed to different rates of alternative reinforcement during Phase 2 of a three-phase resurgence preparation. One group received high reinforcement rates (Fixed-Ratio 1), a second received low reinforcement rates (Variable-Interval 15-s), and a control group received no alternative reinforcement. Further, all mice underwent two rounds of resurgence testing. Higher rates of alternative reinforcement resulted in greater resurgence of the target response relative to the lower rates across resurgence tests. Additionally, levels of resurgence decreased across resurgence tests. Implications of these findings for future research will be discussed.



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