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 #386
CE Offered: BACB
Context Matters: Recent Findings on Strategies to Reduce the Magnitude of Renewal
Monday, May 29, 2023
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom C
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Ryan Kimball (University of Saint Joseph (West Hartford, CT))
Discussant: Christopher A. Podlesnik (University of Florida)
CE Instructor: Ryan Kimball, Ph.D.
Abstract: Treatment relapse refers to the recurrence of a previously eliminated undesirable response following successful intervention. Renewal is one form of relapse that occurs due to a change in context (e.g., treatment setting or implementer). Unfortunately, recent research in applied settings indicates that renewal is prevalent during clinical practice. Accordingly, behavior analysts must discover the conditions in which renewal occurs and evaluate strategies to mitigate the magnitude of renewal. Translational research from the human-operant laboratory and basic research with nonhuman animals provide avenues that can serve as the first steps in developing more robust treatments to guard against renewal. This symposium will present four recent studies on renewal. In the first presentation, researchers examined the role of multiple-context training on ABC renewal with rats. In the second presentation, researchers compared dense and lean schedules of differential reinforcement on the magnitude of renewal with undergraduate college students. In the third presentation, researchers evaluated the impact of fading reinforcer type on the magnitude of renewal with rats. In the final presentation, researchers studied ABA renewal during differential reinforcement of asymmetrical choice options with and without extinction.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Differential reinforcement, renewal, translational research, treatment relapse
Target Audience: The target audience would consist of graduate students, master's-level clinicians, and doctoral-level clinicians/researchers seeking to better understand how context changes impact the relapse of undesirable behavior (e.g., aggression exhibited by a child diagnosed with disabilities). The target audience should have experience with terms such as differential reinforcement, extinction, and stimulus control.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Identify environmental conditions that often result in renewal. 2. Describe potential strategies that may mitigate renewal. 3. Describe the difference between renewal and other forms of relapse
Conducting Extinction in Multiple Contexts Prevents ABC Renewal of Beer Seeking in Rats
(Basic Research)
RODOLFO BERNAL-GAMBOA (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Tere A. Mason (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Nuria Rojas (National University of Mexico), Javier Nieto Gutierrez (National University of Mexico)
Abstract: Since some of the clinical treatments to reduce problematic behaviors include components of extinction, several authors have highlighted the possible contributions of using renewal as a laboratory model for understanding relapse after behavioral interventions. In ABC renewal, after acquisition training takes place in Context A, and extinction in Context B, the reoccurrence is observed when testing is conducted in Context C. In one experiment with rats we investigated the impact of using multiple contexts during extinction on ABC renewal of beer seeking. Two groups of rats were trained to run down the runway for beer in Context A during the first phase of the experiment. In the second phase, the instrumental response underwent extinction. For one group of rats (ABC_1), extinction took place in one Context (B); whereas the other group (ABC_3) received extinction in three different contexts (B, D and E). Then, both groups were tested twice to measure ABC renewal. One test was carried out in the Extinction Context (B), while the other test took place in the Renewal Context (C). We found the ABC renewal effect only in the group that received extinction in one context.
Renewal During Dense and Lean Schedules of Differential Alternative Reinforcement: A Human Operant Investigation
(Basic Research)
RYAN KIMBALL (University of Saint Joseph (West Hartford, CT)), Emily Ferris (University of Nebraska Medical Center; Munroe Meyer Institute), Lindsay Elise Day (University of Saint Joseph), Rebecca Karis (University of Saint Joseph), John Silveira Jr. (University of Saint Joseph), Michael P. Kranak (Oakland University)
Abstract: Renewal is a type of relapse that occurs due to a change in context. Previous research has demonstrated that renewal may occur despite differential reinforcement for an alternative response. We used a translational approach to study the effects of dense and lean schedules of DRA during repeated renewal tests with undergraduate college students (n = 18) and a simulated computer task. All participants experienced two, three-phase ABA renewal arrangements. In the dense and lean renewal arrangements, we differentially reinforced alternative behavior in Context B and the renewal test in Context A on a VI 3-s or a VI 12-s schedule, respectively. Overall, we observed renewal in 30/36 (83%) renewal tests, but the magnitude of relapse was often small. Further, the data suggest that although renewal is possible in both arrangements, a slightly higher magnitude of renewal may be more likely with a lean schedule of reinforcement versus a dense schedule.

An Analysis of Renewal Following Fading of Reinforcer Type

(Basic Research)
BEATRIZ ELENA ARROYO ANTUNEZ (SUNY Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (Golisano Children's Hospital & Center for Special Needs; SUNY Upstate Medical University), Emily L. Baxter (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Kate Derrenbacker (Upstate Cerebral Palsy), Henry S. Roane (SUNY Upstate Medical University), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)

Renewal is the recurrence of a previously eliminated behavior following a change in context. Previous research has demonstrated that when target and alternative behaviors were associated with different reinforcers, re-presenting the target reinforcer non-contingently produced relapse. Relapse was mitigated, however, when the reinforcer associated with the alternative response was re-presented. The current study evaluated whether fading reinforcer type during Phase 2 of a relapse preparation would mitigate renewal. During Phase 1, one type of reinforcer (O1) was contingent on rats lever pressing. During Phase 2, reinforcement was presented non-contingently on a fixed schedule, consisting of O1 and a new reinforcer type (O2). For one group (Forward Fading), the percentage of O1 delivered increased across sessions, while the percentage of O2 decreased. For the other fading group (Reverse Fading), reinforcement fading occurred in the opposite manner, while the control group only received O2. Phase 3 consisted of noncontingent delivery of O1 only to test for renewal. Results indicated that the direction of reinforcement fading did not differentially affect relapse between the fading groups. Further, both fading groups demonstrated attenuation of relapse relative to the control, where robust renewal occurred. Implications of these findings and directions for future research will be discussed.


Evaluating Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Renewal During Differential Reinforcement of Asymmetrical Choice Options With and Without Extinction

(Basic Research)
KACEY RENEE FINCH (West Virginia University), Ashe Walker (West Virginia University), Rebecca Woodard (University of North Carolina Greensboro), Kamila Redd (Washington University in St. Louis), Briel Durand-Zara (West Virginia University), Kathryn M. Kestner (West Virginia University)

Renewal is the reemergence of a previously reduced response following a context change. ABA renewal was evaluated in a series of human-operant experiments during which adults engaged with a computer task with three colored circles (a target response and two alternative responses). Each experiment followed a standard 3-phase relapse arrangement. Context changes were represented by the background screen color, which progressed according to an ABA context arrangement. The target response was reinforced in Phase 1 (Context A) and then reduced according to a differential reinforcement procedure in Phase 2 (Context B). In Phase 2, there were concurrently available asymmetrical choice options with varied magnitudes of reinforcement. For some participants, target responding was on extinction. For others, the target response continued to be reinforced with a lower magnitude of points relative to the alternative responses. Phase 3 was the renewal test in the presence of Context A. Renewal occurred for most participants across experiments; therefore, we evaluated context fading to mitigate renewal. At the end of Phase 2, the background color of the screen gradually shifted from Context B to Context A. Clinical implications for the occurrence of renewal in concurrent-operant arrangements and mitigation strategies based on context-fading will be discussed.




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