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 #52
CE Offered: BACB
Basic and Applied Investigations of Operant Renewal
Saturday, May 25, 2024
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
Convention Center, 200 Level, 204 AB
Area: EAB; Domain: Translational
Chair: Kyleigh Montague (University of Florida)
Discussant: William Sullivan (Golisano Children's Hospital & Center for Special Needs; SUNY Upstate Medical University)
CE Instructor: Kathryn M. Kestner, Ph.D.

Renewal is a form of relapse wherein a previously reinforced response increases when aspects of the environmental context change. Typically, target behavior is acquired in Context A, extinguished in Context B, and then reemerges in Context A (ABA renewal) or a novel Context C (ABC renewal). Renewal has been demonstrated across many species in the laboratory and is prevalent in clinically relevant behavior. Renewal examinations have highlighted advantages of translating findings from basic research to inform development of behavioral treatment and, conversely, pulling from observations in applied settings to inform laboratory research. This bidirectional, translational approach deepens our understanding of behavioral processes involved in renewal while enhancing and refining clinical practice. The first presentation evaluates the role of discriminative stimuli in extinction processes during a renewal procedure with rats (Dr. Beatriz Arroyo Antúnez). The second presentation examines the effects of multiple-context training on ABA and ABC renewal via crowdsourcing (Kyleigh Montague). The third presentation assesses the role of effort disparity between target and alternative responses in a human-operant arrangement (Haleh Amanieh). The final presentation involves a retrospective analysis, examining renewal of challenging behavior following changes in therapist, setting, and work task (Alex Pauls). Dr. William Sullivan will serve as discussant.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Relapse, Renewal, Resurgence, Translational
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Describe renewal and the implications of renewal as a form of relapse in clinical practice; (2) Discuss the evidence for at least one renewal mitigation strategy; (3) Explain the effects of discrimination training on renewal; (4) Describe the potential impacts of relative response effort of target and alternative responses on renewal.
Discrimination Training Reduces Resistance to Extinction in a Novel Context
(Basic Research)
BEATRIZ ELENA ARROYO ANTUNEZ (SUNY Upstate Medical University), William Sullivan (Golisano Children's Hospital & Center for Special Needs; SUNY Upstate Medical University), Kaitlyn Browning (University of Vermont), Henry S. Roane (Upstate Medical University ), Andrew R. Craig (SUNY Upstate Medical University)
Abstract: ABC renewal is studied by reinforcing a behavior in one context (Context A) during Phase 1, extinguishing that behavior in a second context (Context B) during Phase 2, and testing for renewal by introducing a novel context (Context C) during Phase 3. Craig et al. (2020) showed that extinction in Context B, alone, during Phase 2 produces more ABC renewal of rats’ lever pressing than does alternating between extinction in Context B and reinforcement in Context A during Phase 2. They hypothesized that Context A-B alternations may have trained rats to discriminate periods of extinction from periods of reinforcement. The current experiment followed up on this hypothesis. Groups of rats were exposed to a two-component multiple schedule wherein components were signaled by a constant or flashing light above the lever. Rats in the Nondiscriminative group received reinforcement in both components, and rats in the Discriminative group received reinforcement in one component and extinction in the other. Overall reinforcer rates were controlled between groups. Consistent with Craig et al.’s (2020) hypothesis, lever pressing was more resistant to extinction for rats in the Nondiscriminative group than for rats in the Discriminative group when extinction was conducted with no lever-light stimulus.

An Evaluation of the Effects of Multiple-Context Training on ABA and ABC Renewal

(Basic Research)
KYLEIGH MONTAGUE (University of Florida), Carla N Martinez-Perez (University of Florida), Carolyn Ritchey (Auburn University), Alexander Seijo (University of Florida), Toshikazu Kuroda (Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International), Christopher A. Podlesnik (University of Florida)

Laboratory models of relapse (e.g., renewal, resurgence) offer techniques to assess challenges to behavioral treatments involving differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA) with extinction. Resurgence emerges as conditions of reinforcement for desired behavior worsen, whereas renewal occurs during transitions away from a treatment context. Traditionally, target behavior is acquired in training Context A, extinguished in treatment Context B, then reemerges in Context A (ABA renewal) or novel Context C (ABC renewal). The current study recruited adult participants through the crowdsourcing platform Prolific to investigate the effect of conducting treatment in multiple contexts on the relapse of operant behaviors. Participants engaged in an online button-pressing task to earn points exchangeable for money, and contextual changes occurred through background image changes. Experiment 1 evaluated differences in relapse among participants who experienced DRA with extinction in three contexts (B, C, D) prior to experiencing extinction for both target and alternative responding in the training context, and Experiment 2 evaluated these differences in a novel context (E). Multiple-context training did not mitigate ABA renewal; however, previous literature suggests multiple-context training does mitigate ABC renewal. Results of the present study provide insight into behavioral techniques that best attenuate relapse of operant behavior following successful treatment.

An Evaluation of a Human-Operant Effort Manipulation and Effects of Effort Disparity on Renewal
(Basic Research)
HALEH AMANIEH (West Virginia University), Kathryn M. Kestner (West Virginia University)
Abstract: The relative effort of target and alternative responses during treatments using differential reinforcement of alternative behavior may impact the likelihood that a previously reduced target response will reemerge following a context change (i.e., “renewal”). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of an effort disparity between target and alternative responses in a human-operant arrangement. Fourteen college students clicked on one (Experiment 1) or two (Experiment 2) circles moving on a computer screen for points. In Experiment 1, the speed of the circle was manipulated as an index of effort such that three circle speeds (i.e., 50, 100, 200 mm/s) were used across conditions. Nearly all participants engaged in differential response rates, depending on the speed of the available circle. In Experiment 2, a three-phase renewal arrangement was executed across three experimental conditions in which the target response was either the same, easier, or more difficult than the alternative response. The effects of the relative effort of the target response to the alternative response on the occurrence and magnitude of renewal were mixed across participants. The clinical and conceptual relevance regarding the relative effort of target and alternative responses will be discussed.
Renewal of Challenging Behavior in an Intensive Outpatient Clinic: A Replication and Extension
(Applied Research)
ALEXANDER PAULS (University of Iowa), Ishita Aggarwal (University of Iowa), Matthew O'Brien (The University of Iowa), Christopher A. Podlesnik (University of Florida), Sara R. Jeglum (Blank Children's Hospital), Joel Eric Ringdahl (University of Georgia)
Abstract: Relapse of challenging behavior previously reduced during behavioral treatment is sometimes caused by changes in treatment contexts. This type of relapse, called renewal, has been studied heavily in basic and translational studies, but has only recently been the focus in applied research. Previous retrospective analyses showed renewal of challenging behavior related to therapist and setting changes occurs in many patient cases in intensive behavior clinics. To replicate and extend these studies, we conducted analyses of renewal across 59 patients in an intensive day treatment clinic for individuals with disabilities who exhibit challenging behavior. We extend the previous studies by analyzing renewal associated with a third context change (i.e., work tasks) and we compared the prevalence of renewal using liberal and stringent definitions (e.g., relapse within three sessions following a context change vs. relapse in the first session following a context change). Additionally, we calculated the prevalence of relapse not associated with one of the three identified context changes. Preliminary analyses suggest relapse frequently occurs outside of identified context changes. We compare our findings to the previously published studies and discuss the implications for future clinical and research practice.



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