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

Previous Page


Symposium #146
Persistence and Relapse of Operant Behavior: Experimental and Theoretical Analyses
Saturday, May 29, 2021
5:00 PM–6:50 PM
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Kenneth David Madrigal Alcaraz (Universidad de Guadalajara - CEIC)
Discussant: Eric A. Thrailkill (University of Vermont)

The present studies assessed variables involved in behavioral persistence under resistance to change and relapse procedures. By using a four-component multiple schedule, Kim, Bai, Xue, Podlesnik and Elliffe established key pecking under different reinforcement frequencies (rich, lean and intermediate). Their results suggest a role for stimulus generalization as a determinant of behavioral persistence. Madrigal, Craig and Flores isolated response-rate and training-length effects on ABA-operant renewal. Rats responded at high or low rates and were exposed to either short or extended training. They found a relation between length of training and renewal, which was affected by differences in training response rates. Nist and Shahan explored the temporal dynamics of resurgence during alternative reinforcement thinning via within-session progressive-interval thinning in two experiments. In both experiments, resurgence occurred during thinning but not after alternative-response extinction. Finally, Derrenbacker, Agnew, Sullivan, Baxter, Roane and Craig, tested competing predictions of two prominent theorical accounts of resurgence: Resurgence as Choice and Context Theory. After increasing or decreasing alternative-reinforcer magnitude during a relapse test, they reported resurgence regardless of the direction of the shift. Altogether, these studies provide further information on the experimental and theoretical interpretations of resurgence.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): operant behavior, persistance, renewal, resurgence

Behavioral Momentum and Stimulus Generalization

PETER B. C. KIM (University of Auckland), John Y. H. Bai (University of Auckland), Shijue Xue (University of Auckland), Christopher A. Podlesnik (Auburn University), Douglas Elliffe (University of Auckland)

Behavioral momentum theory suggests that the relation between a discriminative stimulus and reinforcement determines the persistence of responding in the presence of that discriminative stimulus. However, responding also generalizes across similar discriminative stimuli and it remains unclear how generalization may affect behavioral persistence. The present experiment arranged food reinforcement for pigeons’ key-peck responses in a four-component multiple schedule. Components were signaled by different wavelengths projected onto the response key. Two components arranged equal, Intermediate variable interval (VI) 60-s schedules in the presence of 510 nm and 580 nm, while the other two components arranged Rich VI 15-s and Lean VI 240-s schedules in the presence of 530 nm and 560 nm, respectively. Responding in the Intermediate component flanking the Rich Component was more persistent than responding in the Intermediate component flanking the Lean Component. Additionally, generalization tests and preference probes provided converging evidence that stimuli associated with Richer and Leaner reinforcement schedules impacted the value of the stimuli signaling the Intermediate components. These data suggest a role for generalization in establishing the stimulus-reinforcer relation that determines behavioral persistence.


Separating the Effects of Response Rate and Acquisition Sessions on ABA Operant Renewal

KENNETH DAVID MADRIGAL ALCARAZ (Universidad de Guadalajara - CEIC), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Carlos Javier Flores Aguirre (Universidad de Guadalajara)

The duration of acquisition has been positively associated with ABA renewal. However, in studies that have showed this effect, response rates are higher for subjects that experience prolonged training than for subjects that experience shorter training. Thus, it is unclear if this differences can be explained by the duration of acquisition or by any difference on response rates. The present experiment was developed with the purpose of further assessing this possibility. During the first condition, two groups of rats were exposed to either short or long training in Context A. Within each group, high and low response rates were established according to a VI30s (100% and 50% response-dependent food, respectively). Rats were then exposed to extinction sessions under Context B. Finally, renewal was tested by returning rats to Context A. The second condition occurred in the same manner as the first, with the exception that subjects’ response rates were reversed. Greater ABA renewal was observed after long training. However, independently of the length of training, greater renewal was observed after low lever-pressing response rates. These results extend those of previous studies where renewal was greater after long training, and provide evidence on the effects of response rates on ABA renewal.

Resurgence and Repeated Within-Session Progressive-Interval Thinning of Alternative Reinforcement
ANTHONY NATHAN NIST (Utah State University), Timothy A. Shahan (Utah State University)
Abstract: Resurgence of a previously suppressed target behavior is common when reinforcement for a more recently reinforced alternative behavior is thinned. To better characterize such resurgence, these experiments examined repeated within-session alternative reinforcement thinning using a progressive-interval (PI) schedule with rats. In Experiment 1, a transition from a high rate of alternative reinforcement to a within-session PI schedule generated robust resurgence, but subsequent complete removal of alternative reinforcement produced no additional resurgence. Experiment 2 replicated these findings and showed similar effects with a fixed-interval (FI) schedule arranging similarly reduced session-wide rates of alternative reinforcement. Thus, the lack of additional resurgence following repeated exposure to the PI schedule was likely due to the low overall obtained rate of alternative reinforcement provided by the PI schedule, rather than to exposure to within-session reinforcement thinning per se. In both experiments, target responding increased at some point in the session during schedule thinning and continued across the rest of the session. Rats exposed to a PI schedule showed resurgence later in the session and after more cumulative alternative reinforcers than those exposed to an FI schedule. The results suggest the potential importance of further exploring how timing and change-detection mechanisms might be involved in resurgence.

The Effects of Symmetrical Alternative-Reinforcer Magnitude Upshifts and Downshifts on Resurgence

KATE ELIZABETH DERRENBACKER (SUNY Upstate Medical University ), Charlene Nicole Agnew (Student), William Sullivan (Upstate Medical University), Emily L. Baxter (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Henry S. Roane (Upstate Medical University), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)

Resurgence is defined as relapse of a previously extinguished behavior following a change in reinforcement for an alternative behavior. Resurgence as choice (RaC) and context theory are two prominent theoretical accounts of this form of relapse. RaC states that resurgence is driven by an abrupt reduction in the value of alternative reinforcement during extinction. In contrast, context theory posits resurgence is driven by changes in the discriminative properties of alternative reinforcement. In this study, we aimed to test competing predictions of these theoretical approaches by manipulating alternative-reinforcer magnitude in two different ways. Across phases of a three-phase resurgence preparation, one group of rats received one food pellet for a target response and four pellets for an alternative response. In the final phase, alternative reinforcement was downshifted to one pellet. Another group of animals experienced a similar arrangement, but alternative reinforcement was shifted in the opposite direction. More specifically, target responding was reinforced with four food pellets and alternative responding with one pellet, followed by an upshift in alternative reinforcement to four pellets. Results indicated that resurgence of target responding occurred regardless of the direction of the shift in alternative reinforcement. Implications for theoretical interpretations of resurgence will be further discussed.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh