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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #131
To Respond or Not to Respond: The Evocative and Suppressive Effects of Feedback
Sunday, May 28, 2023
8:00 AM–8:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom C
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Amanda Miles (West Virginia University)

Feedback, or a discriminable change that reliably predicts other environmental changes, can have both a suppressive and evocative effect on behavior depending on a variables such as temporal location or the probability of a consequence following the stimulus change. The three studies in this symposium investigated the effects of predictive signals with pigeons and human participants. One study investigated the temporal location of feedback during delays to reinforcement and found that this feedback generally suppressed responding when presented at the end of the delay and evoked responding when presented at the beginning. The second study presented sequential stimuli across an interfood interval during fixed- and variable-interval schedules and found that responding was suppressed during the first half and evoked during the second half, a pattern different from what both schedules would produce with only one stimulus. In the third study, reinforcers functioned as discriminative stimuli, signaling which upcoming response was likely to produce a subsequent reinforcer. Under these conditions, the response that resulted in a reinforcer delivery did not increase in frequency but did result in predictable changes in response allocation. These studies demonstrate how feedback can be successfully used to alter patterns of responding.

Instruction Level: Basic
Effects of Brief Signal Location on Responding Maintained by Delay of Reinforcement
FIRDAVS KHAYDAROV (West Virginia University), Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: The purpose of the investigation was to examine the effects of imposing a brief signal at different temporal locations within the delay-of-reinforcement-interval on responding. A tandem variable-time 60-s fixed-interval 9-s schedule served as the immediate-reinforcement baseline condition against which three delay conditions were examined. For the latter, a chained variable-interval 60-s (non-delay period) fixed-time 9-s (delay period) schedule was used. In the START, MIDDLE, and END delay conditions, a 2-s blackout was imposed in the indicated locations, respectively defined as the onset of the delay, at the 4-s point in the delay period, and at the 7-s point in the delay period. In the non-delay period, responding was maintained at a higher level in the START condition in comparison to that maintained when the blackout was located at the MIDDLE or END of the delay interval. Likewise, in the delay period, the response rate was higher in the START condition in comparison to the MIDDLE or END conditions. Thus, the temporal location of a brief signal during the delay period impacts response maintenance by reinforcement delayed from the response that produces it.
Just Like A Pigeon, Time Flies: Effects of Signaling Location in Interfood Interval
AMANDA MILES (West Virginia University), Kennon Andy Lattal (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Schedules of reinforcement are vital to our understanding of behavior. Simple schedules of reinforcement with single stimuli are used for a wide variety of experiments, but few have investigated the impacts of sequential stimuli, particularly changes in stimuli across the entire interfood interval. The present experiment was conducted to determine the impact of sequential stimuli across the interfood interval. Three white Carneau pigeons were exposed to a multiple fixed-interval 60-s variable-interval 60-s schedule with and without seven additional stimuli presented across proportions of the interfood interval. The presence of the stimuli (in both fixed- and variable-interval components) resulted in responding being suppressed in the first half of the interfood interval and evoked during the second half of the interfood interval. This pattern of behavior is different from that observed with schedules that use single stimuli throughout the interfood interval. These results add to the understanding of how stimulus variables across the interfood interval impact the pattern of responding.

Evaluating the Discriminative Properties of Reinforcers in an Automated Task With Children and Adults

CORINA JIMENEZ-GOMEZ (University of Florida), Carolyn Ritchey (Auburn University), Adam Thornton Brewer (Western Connecticut State University), Sarah Cowie (University of Auckland, New Zealand), Christopher A. Podlesnik (University of Florida)

In applied behavior analysis, practitioners rely on the use of reinforcement-based interventions to increase the occurrence of desired target behaviors by arranging the presentation of highly preferred stimuli as consequences for the occurrence of target behavior. For instance, our lab successfully used such interventions to promote generative learning of verbal behavior in children with autism. Nevertheless, several findings from basic behavioral research have questioned the traditional notion that reinforcers primarily strengthening operant behavior. The present experiments extended recent research with children in which their choices appeared to be controlled by what reinforcers signaled about upcoming events. That is, the response emitted immediately prior to the reinforcer did not necessarily occur at a higher rate, as would be expected from a response-strengthening account of reinforcement. In a series of studies using a touchscreen task, both children and adults allocated responding according to the forthcoming reinforcer probabilities instead of where the most recent reinforcer had been delivered. Findings from these studies highlight the multiple potential functions of consequences.




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