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.


50th Annual Convention; Philadelphia, PA; 2024

Event Details

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Symposium #401
Evaluating How Various Reinforcement Contingencies Affect Subsequent Extinction Effects in Human-Operant Arrangement and Applied Settings
Monday, May 27, 2024
8:00 AM–9:50 AM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 204 C
Area: EAB/DDA; Domain: Translational
Chair: Samantha Ruth Walters (Georgia Southern University )
Discussant: Daniel R. Mitteer (Rutgers University (RUCARES))

Extinction involves the suspension of reinforcement for a target behavior and is a commonly used procedure in differential reinforcement of alternative behavior interventions. Empirical evidence supports the use of extinction to produce effective and efficient reductions in severe problem behavior. Notwithstanding this evidence, the use of extinction may also come with a host of concerns related to social acceptability, ecological validity, response bursting, and the relapse of problem behavior. Toward answering questions related to these concerns, some research has focused on evaluating the variables which contribute to the sensitivity to extinction and extinction bursts, as well as identifying interventions that do not subsume extinction. We present a collection of presentations which span the continuum from translational to applied research investigating critical questions regarding extinction. In this symposium, Dr. Andrew Craig will present on the effects of continuous and partial reinforcement on extinction performance. Sydney Arthur will present on the effects of degrading the quality parameter of reinforcement for interventions without extinction. Skylar DeWitt will present on the investigation of the magnitude of resurgence following differential reinforcement interventions with and without extinction. Finally, Dr. Mayank Gandhi will present data on the prevalence of extinction bursts for automatically maintained severe problem behavior. We are fortunate to welcome Dr. Daniel Mitteer as our discussant.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Extinction, Problem Behavior, Relapse, Translational

Evaluating the Effects of Continuous Versus Partial Reinforcement on Extinction Performance in the Human Laboratory

(Applied Research)
Andrew Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University), MAYSARAH G MOHAMED (SUNY Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (Golisano Children's Hospital & Center for Special Needs; SUNY Upstate Medical University), Nicole M. DeRosa (Kelberman), Beatriz Elena Arroyo Antunez (SUNY Upstate Medical University)

Recent human-laboratory analyses of extinction performance have demonstrated lack of sensitivity of human behavior to extinction contingencies. The current experiment aimed to evaluate whether arranging high (continuous reinforcement, CRF) vs. low (partial reinforcement, PRF) rates of reinforcement for human behavior in the laboratory affected extinction performance. Five adults pressed buttons for point reinforcers in two laboratory visits. During each visit, button pressing produced reinforcers for ten, 2-min baseline sessions after which pressing was placed on extinction for twenty, 2-min sessions. During one visit (the CRF condition), every press to a target button resulted in points in baseline. During the other (the PRF condition), target-button pressing produced points according to a variable-interval 10-s schedule in baseline. Button pressing tended to persist across sessions of extinction, but it persisted more in the PRF condition than in the CRF condition for most participants. Extinction also was associated with elevated levels of pressing to inactive buttons that were never associated with reinforcement. Additional work is needed to better understand why human behavior persists during extinction when evaluated in laboratory settings.

A Translational Investigation of Reducing Target Behavior by Progressively Degrading the Quality Parameter of Reinforcement
(Applied Research)
SYDNEY ARTHUR (Georgia Southern University), Kayla Randall (Georgia Southern University), Samantha Ruth Walters (Georgia Southern University ), Adam M. Briggs (Eastern Michigan University)
Abstract: Differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) interventions have historically implemented both reinforcement of an alternative behavior and extinction of a target behavior. In some cases, caregivers and practitioners cannot always implement extinction for problem behaviors that are dangerous, automatically maintained, or impossible to extinguish under certain conditions. Therefore, DRA interventions that do not implement extinction are warranted. In order to distinguish reinforcing contingencies for appropriate and problem behavior, the implementer may degrade one or multiple parameters of the reinforcer for the problem behavior such that appropriate behavior produces the most preferred reinforcer and problem behavior produces some lesser preferred reinforcer. Examples of these parameters include quality, magnitude, and immediacy of reinforcement, as well as response effort. Previous research demonstrates that these degradations may be efficacious in reducing problem behavior without the use of extinction, however, no studies to our knowledge have reduced the quality of a single parameter. In the current investigation, we implemented a variation of DRA without extinction in which we degraded the quality of a single reinforcer using a translational approach. Results indicated that two of five participants demonstrated sensitivity to quality degradation and three participants demonstrated frequent switching such that this indifference to quality was unclear.

An Evaluation of Resurgence Following Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DRA) With and Without Extinction in a Human Operant Model

(Applied Research)
SKYLAR DEWITT (Eastern Michigan University), Adam M. Briggs (Eastern Michigan University)

Individuals with autism are more likely to engage in severe problem behavior than their peers. An evidence-based treatment for severe problem behavior involves placing the problem behavior on extinction and differentially reinforcing an alternative response (DRA). However, extinction is not always feasible and may be unsafe or impractical to implement in some circumstances. For this reason, researchers have begun investigating the use of DRA without extinction with this population. At present, it is unclear how DRA with or without extinction may produce durable treatment outcomes, particularly as it pertains to the resurgence of problem behavior. This presentation describes a study that investigated differential resurgence outcomes following DRA with and without extinction using a three-phase resurgence assessment in a translational model. This presentation will describe significant differences in the presence of resurgence between groups, including differences in the magnitude or persistence of resurgence. Implications for future human-operant investigations of resurgence will be discussed.

Descriptive Characteristics of Possible Extinction Bursts for Automatically Maintained Behavior
(Applied Research)
MAYANK GANDHI (Marcus Autism Center - Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - Emory University), Mindy Christine Scheithauer (Marcus Autism Center), Chloe Kirkpatrick (Marcus Autism Center), Alexis Constantin Pavlov (Marcus Autism Center), Colin S. Muething (Marcus Autism Center), Summer Bottini (Marcus Autism Center)
Abstract: Extinction bursts are a temporary increase in a target response (frequency, duration, magnitude) when procedural extinction is implemented. Extinction bursts may pose risk for injury and challenge implementation integrity. Extinction bursts occur in approximately 36-62% of cases when extinction is implemented in isolation, and 12-15% of cases when implemented in conjunction with reinforcement contingencies (Lerman & Iwata, 1995; Lerman et al., 1999). Prior studies have primarily examined extinction bursts within socially maintained behavior, with Lerman et al., 1999 only including three participants with automatically-maintained self-injury wherein no bursts were observed. In the present study, we examined the prevalence and descriptive characteristics of extinction bursts with automatically-maintained behavior. We utilized a consecutive case series analysis of clients admitted to an intensive day treatment program for severe behavior between 2014-2018. Individuals were included if they received a treatment component for automatically maintained behavior that may have operated through procedural extinction (e.g., sensory extinction, blocking; N=30). Of the 63 cases where procedural extinction was implemented, bursts were observed in only one case (1.6%). See Table 1 for average persistence and magnitude of extinction bursts. During this talk, we will discuss characteristics of treatment/bursts and possible explanations for the reduced prevalence of bursts observed.



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