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.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #398
CE Offered: BACB
Factors Affecting Response Relapse and Resurgence
Monday, May 25, 2015
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
006C (CC)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
Discussant: Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)
CE Instructor: Claire C. St. Peter, Ph.D.
Abstract: When a differential reinforcement procedure is suspended or disrupted, previously extinguished behavior often returns. This phenomenon, termed "resurgence," has been demonstrated under a wide array of conditions, including in non-human laboratories and during the treatment of challenging behavior. Despite the robust array of situations in which resurgence occurs, little is understood about the factors that may exacerbate or mitigate this relapse phenomena. In this symposium, we will explore factors that influence the extent to which responding recurs (resurges) when a differential-reinforcement procedure is disrupted. Although most the studies were typically conducted in highly controlled contexts, we will discuss the implications of these studies for treatment of challenging behavior.
Keyword(s): differential reinforcement, relapse, resurgence
Teaching Multiple Response Alternatives to Mitigate Resurgence: A Human-Operant Demonstration
Travis Carrasquillo (Southern Illinois University), JOEL ERIC RINGDAHL (Southern Illinois University)
Abstract: A common approach to the assessment and treatment of problem behavior is to a) identify the reinforcer maintaining problem behavior (a process that requires contingent presentation of that reinforcer following problem behavior), and b) placing problem behavior on extinction while providing the functional reinforcer for some alternative, appropriate response. Unfortunately, this process may result in treatment relapse if reinforcer delivery for appropriate behavior is disrupted. For example, if appropriate behavior is placed on extinction, there may be resurgence of problem behavior. The current study tested the potential of teaching multiple response alternatives to mitigate resurgence of a target response. This relapse in treatment effects can have deleterious effects for the person exhibiting problem behavior or their care providers. In the current, human operant study, two experimental arrangements were alternated. In one component, a target response was reinforced, then an alternative response was reinforced while the target response was placed on extinction. In the final phase, both responses were placed on extinction. In the second component, a target response was reinforced, then four alternative responses were reinforced while the target response was placed on extinction. In the final phase, all responses were placed on extinction. Six of nine participants demonstrated lower resurgence of the target response following reinforcement of multiple response alternatives. The results of this study suggest teaching multiple response alternatives is a possible treatment strategy to mitigate response resurgence.
Effects of Initial Reinforcement Schedule and Type of Response-Reinforcer Disruption on Resurgence
DWIGHT LASTINGER (West Virginia University), Claire C. St. Peter (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Resurgence refers to the reemergence of previously extinguished responding when an alternative response is also placed on extinction. Resurgence may occur to varying extents based on initial reinforcement schedules and the type of disruption in the response-reinforcer dependency. The present study examines the interaction between initial reinforcement schedules (fixed-ratio 1 or fixed-interval 5”) and subsequent resurgence during fixed-time or extinction phases. We used a group design to evaluate this 2x2 interaction. Initial results indicate less resurgence occurred for participants who experienced fixed-interval reinforcement schedules than fixed-ratio reinforcement schedules, regardless of disruptor type, F(1, 7) = 6.48, P < .05. Disruptor type had no significant effect on resurgence, extinction tests did not produce greater resurgence than did fixed-time tests, F(1, 7) = 3.84, P > .05. There was no significant interaction between initial reinforcement schedule and disruptor type, F(1,36) = .34, P > .05. These results suggest that the initial schedule is the main determinant of the level of resurgence, and providing response-independent reinforcement on a fixed-time schedule dies not reduce that level.
Do Shifts in the Magnitude or Quality of Alternative Reinforcement Produce Resurgence?
Rusty Nall (Utah State University), ANDREW R. CRAIG (Utah State University), Ciara Marshall (Utah State University), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)
Abstract: Differential-reinforcement-of-alternative-behavior based interventions often are used to decrease undesirable behavior. When these interventions are suspended, however, resurgence of the original behavior is common. Some investigators have tried to prevent resurgence by gradually thinning alternative-reinforcer rate, but this component of treatment is not always successful. In the current experiments, we examined effects of thinning alternative-reinforcer dimensions other than rate (magnitude and quality) on response suppression during alternative reinforcement. In Experiments 1 and 2, groups of rats pressed levers for four- and six-pellet reinforcers, respectively, according to variable-interval 15 s schedules. Next, lever pressing was extinguished while chain pulling produced reinforcers of the same magnitude according to the same schedule as baseline. Finally, alternative reinforcement was suspended or decreased to one pellet in each experiment. Alternative-reinforcer magnitude was halved for an additional group in Experiment 2. Shifts to zero and one pellet produced comparable resurgence in both experiments. However, halving alternative-reinforcer magnitude in Experiment 2 produced less resurgence than the other manipulations. We investigated effects of alternative-reinforcer quality (i.e., delivery of 32%-sucrose vs. 4%-sucrose solutions) in Experiment 3. Shifts in alternative-reinforcer quality did not produce resurgence. Practical and theoretical implications of these findings will be discussed.
Relations between Reinforcer Potency and the Resurgence of Problem Behavior
PATRICK ROMANI (Munroe Meyer Institute), David P. Wacker (The University of Iowa), Nicole H. Lustig (The University of Iowa), Deva Carrion (University of Iowa)
Abstract: We present data from one participant enrolled in the current investigation. Inter-observer agreement was assessed for 30% of sessions and averaged 90%. Phases 1, 2, and 3 were conducted within a multiple schedules design. During Phase 1, a baseline condition was conducted in the demand context. Problem behavior was reinforced with escape from demands according to a fixed ratio (FR) 1 schedule and compliance was placed on extinction. During Phase 2, compliance was reinforced with either toys with attention or toys alone according to an FR-1 schedule and problem behavior was placed on extinction. Once an 80% reduction in problem behavior occurred, a reinforcer potency analysis was conducted according to a progressive ratio arrangement and reversal design. The purpose of the reinforcer potency analysis was to evaluate the reinforcer (toys with attention or toys alone) that maintained the highest levels of compliance (i.e., most potent reinforcer). Phase 2 was re-implemented following the reinforcer potency analysis. Compliance and problem behavior were placed on extinction in Phase 3 to evaluate resurgence of problem behavior. Results will be discussed in terms of their clinical and translational implications.



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