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 #55
Basic and Applied Investigations of Resurgence: A Translational Approach to Demonstrating and Mitigating Relapse
Saturday, May 28, 2022
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Room 152
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Jessica L French (Rutgers University - Rutgers University - Children's Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services)
Discussant: Christopher A. Podlesnik (Auburn University)

Resurgence is the recurrence of a previously reduced target response (e.g., problem behavior) following a worsening in reinforcement conditions for a recently increased alternative response (e.g., a communication request). Recent investigations of resurgence have demonstrated the utility of a bidirectional translational approach wherein basic studies help inform applied treatment refinements and important phenomena observed in the applied setting are brought into the laboratory for rigorous examination. This cycle then continues, enriching both conceptual understanding of resurgence phenomena and improving clinical care. This symposium showcases that unique blend of investigations between basic and applied researchers. Two presentations highlight challenges encountered during laboratory evaluations of resurgence with typically developing adult participants (e.g., persistent responding during extinction) as well as potential methodological refinements to minimize these issues (e.g., manipulating response effort). The two final presentations investigate resurgence of severe destructive behavior within clinical settings and examine the use of mitigation strategies derived from basic literature (e.g., treatment modifications informed by behavioral momentum theory). Dr. ChrisPodlensik, an expert in basic and applied studies of treatment relapse, will discuss the implications of these studies as they relate to understanding and mitigating resurgence.

Instruction Level: Advanced
Keyword(s): Persistence, Resurgence, Translational Research, Treatment Relapse

High- and Low-Technology Resurgence Preparations Fail to Produce Extinction

(Basic Research)
MAYSARAH G MOHAMED (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Valdeep Saini (Brock University), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Nicole M. DeRosa (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Arohan Rimal (William Patterson University), Kate Elizabeth Derrenbacker (SUNY Upstate Medical University ), Henry S. Roane (Upstate Medical University and Elemy Autism Care)

Resurgence is observed when a previously extinguished behavior reemerges while a more recently reinforced behavior is extinguished. Resurgence is further defined as responding that is greater than an inactive-control response that never produced reinforcement. Recent studies of resurgence in human-laboratory investigations have produced discrepant patterns of responding compared to nonhuman animal-laboratory studies when comparing control response performance. Namely, human-laboratory investigations have produced no differences between target and control responding and persistence across the resurgence-test phase. In the present study, we conducted two human-laboratory experiments to determine if these effects were a product of the history of reinforcement associated with the target response, as well as the types of technology used in human-laboratory studies. For all participants, we found no differences in levels of resurgence and occurrence for the target and control response, respectively. Moreover, we observed persistence of all response types across the resurgence-test phase. This finding was apparent even when the length of baseline (i.e., reinforcement for the target) was increased, when the length of extinction was increased, and when low-technology stimuli were used. We highlight the implications of this outcome in the context of human-laboratory studies and discuss the possible role of verbal mediation in these investigations.


The Impact of Exposures to Extinction During Functional Communication Training on Resurgence During Intervention Disruption

(Applied Research)
KELLY M. SCHIELTZ (University of Iowa), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Georgia)

To mitigate resurgence, translational research has largely focused on the role of reinforcement. In treatment programs, components, such as extinction, are much less frequently studied. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of exposures to extinction during functional communication training (FCT) on resurgence of problem behavior when intervention was disrupted. In this study, FCT was implemented across two conditions: (a) brief and (b) extended exposures to extinction. In each condition, a mand opportunity was restricted for brief or extended periods of time in the functional establishing operation. Restricted access to the mand opportunity in the extended condition was three times the length of time used in the brief condition. When problem behavior reduced by 80% of baseline levels in each FCT condition, FCT was disrupted with extinction. For tests of disruption, the hypothesis (based on Schieltz et al., 2017) was that resurgence would occur at higher levels in the FCT condition that resulted in less exposures to extinction (i.e., brief condition) than the condition with more exposures to extinction (i.e., extended condition). The first two completed cases showing different results from an ongoing project will be presented with discussion of methodologic issues related to these differences.


The Combined and Individual Effects of Rates of Reinforcement in Baseline and in Treatment and Treatment Duration on the Resurgence of Destructive Behavior

(Applied Research)
ASHLEY MARIE FUHRMAN (Rutgers University ), Wayne W. Fisher (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Brian D. Greer (Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School), Daniel R. Mitteer (Rutgers University - Children's Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services), Grace Kurywczak (Children’s Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services), Shannon Angley (Children’s Specialized Hospital Center for Autism Research, Education, and Services)

Recent research has shown that functional communication training (FCT) treatments are susceptible to treatment relapse in the form of resurgence of destructive behavior when individuals contact periods in which reinforcers are unavailable. We completed a series of four studies that evaluated how specific behavioral momentum theory (BMT)-informed adjustments to FCT would help reduce the resurgence of destructive behavior during extended periods of extinction for the functional communication response (FCR). The adjustments included (a) delivering a low rate of reinforcement for destructive behavior during baseline (Study 1); (b) delivering a low rate of reinforcement for the FCR during FCT (Study 2); (c) conducting a large number of FCT sessions before exposing the FCR to periods of extinction (Study 3); and, (d) the combination of these three adjustments (Study 4). Study 4 was the only study in which we observed consistently lower levels of resurgence in the context that was designed to mitigate resurgence. Thus, combining the refinements reduced resurgence of destructive behavior to a greater extent than each of the individual refinements. Overall, the results suggest that additional research is needed to replicate and extend these findings before we can recommend incorporating these adjustments into clinical standards of care.


The Effects of Response Effort on Extinction and Relapse During Human-Laboratory Experiments on Resurgence

(Applied Research)
ANDREW R. CRAIG (SUNY Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Valdeep Saini (Brock University), Charlene Nicole Agnew (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Kate Elizabeth Derrenbacker (SUNY Upstate Medical University ), Abbie Cooper (Brock University), David Mathews (Brock University), Henry S. Roane (Upstate Medical University and Elemy Autism Care)

Human-laboratory research on resurgence from our group and others’ has generated data that do not closely resemble those generated from basic-laboratory or clinical evaluations of this form of relapse. In particular, participants’ target behavior tends to persist during the extinction + alternative-reinforcement phase, and participants tend to indiscriminately and persistently allocate their behavior between response options during relapse testing, whether or not those options have been associated with reinforcement. In the present experiment, we asked whether differences in response effort between research settings might partially explain these findings. Participants completed a high-effort and a low-effort resurgence evaluation across two laboratory visits. Effort was manipulated by increasing the physical distance between operanda (BIGmack buttons). In both evaluations, pressing target and alternative buttons produced point reinforcers during the baseline and extinction + alternative-reinforcement phases, respectively. Finally, reinforcement was suspended to test for resurgence. Outcomes from the low-effort condition replicated previous findings from human-laboratory evaluations of resurgence described above. In the high-effort condition, however, target-button pressing was suppressed during the extinction + alternative-reinforcement phase, and responding was differentiated during resurgence testing. Implications of these data for human-laboratory evaluations of resurgence will be discussed.




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