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 #313
Recent Evaluations of Choice Procedures Involving Reinforcing and Aversive Consequences
Sunday, May 26, 2024
3:00 PM–4:50 PM
Convention Center, 100 Level, 102 AB
Area: BPN/EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Mackenzie Baranski (Northern Michigan University)
Discussant: Gregory J. Madden (Utah State University)
Abstract: Behavior that occurs in everyday life can produce positive or aversive consequences and is often classified with terms such as impulsivity or self-control. The consequences produced can occur immediately after the behavior or after a delayed period of time. Incorporating drugs into delay discounting research has also added a new element to understanding choice by investigating a problematic behavior often associated with impulsivity. The present symposium arranges four recent studies in this research field that further our understanding of problematic behaviors associated with the different delay discounting paradigms. The first presentation discusses both positive and aversive consequences as well as the effect of varying drug classifications on choice using rats. The second presentation describes the effects of a commonly prescribed drug as well as both positive and aversive consequences on choice using rats. The third presentation investigates the effects of a commonly abused drug on sensitivity to reinforcement magnitude and delay using rats. The fourth presentation evaluates the effects of when immediate gains are followed by delayed losses using human participants. This symposium will explore these types of choice situations and encourage future research on this underrepresented area. The symposium will conclude with a discussion led by Dr. Greg Madden.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): aversive events, choice, delay discounting, drug administration

Effects of Diazepam, d-Amphetamine, and Morphine on Choice Between Food and Food With Delayed Shock

MACKENZIE BARANSKI (Northern Michigan University), Cory Toegel (Northern Michigan University), Forrest Toegel (Northern Michigan University)

Repeated choices that result in immediate reinforcing consequences followed by delayed aversive consequences are commonly associated with problematic behavior such as drug use. The present study evaluated acute effects of diazepam, d-amphetamine, and morphine on rats’ choices during a conflicting-consequences procedure. Rats pressed response levers to choose between a small immediate food reinforcer and a large immediate food reinforcer that was followed by a delayed shock. The delay between the large reinforcer and shock varied systematically in a fixed order across blocks of trials in each session. Choice of the small reinforcer across blocks of trials shows how the effects of the shock change as a function of the delay. After stable choice was determined, rats were exposed to acute administration of commonly prescribed drug classes. Changes in patterns of choice, area under the curve, and response latencies following drug administration show the effects of the drugs. This study sheds light on the general effects of commonly prescribed drug classes on choice in the conflicting-consequences paradigm.

Influence of Methylphenidate, Reinforcer Amount and Punishment Intensity on Rats’ Temporal Discounting of Aversive Consequences
VLADIMIR ORDUNA (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), William Rodriguez (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México )
Abstract: Delayed aversive consequences play a fundamental role in the maintenance of maladaptive behaviors. For studying temporal discounting of aversive consequences, we employed a task in which rats chose between: a) an alternative that delivered a smaller-amount of reinforcer and no aversive consequence, and b) an alternative that delivered a larger-amount of reinforcer and an aversive consequence (an electric shock); the delay to the shock was progressively increased (or decreased in the descending-delays condition) across the session. For understanding the preference for the alternative associated with the aversive consequence, in the present experiments we manipulated the larger-amount-plus-shock alternative, the amount of the reinforcer (experiment 1, 8 subjects) and the intensity of the shock (experiment 2, 8 subjects). The rats’ pharmacological state was manipulated via administration of methylphenidate (0, 4, 8, and 16 mg/kg; experiment 3; 16 subjects). The results indicate that rats’ sensitivity to delayed aversive outcomes diminished when the shock’s intensity increased, when the amount of reinforcer associated with the larger-amount-plus-shock alternative decreased, and when rats were tested under the influence of methylphenidate. The present results suggest that potential treatments for maladaptive behaviors related to delayed aversive consequences should account for both positive and the aversive consequences of such behaviors.
Effects of Oxycodone on Sensitivity to Reinforcement Magnitude and Delay: Implications for Impulsive Choice
RYAN CHARLES BLEJEWSKI (University of North Carolina Wilmington; Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health), Justin Van Heukelom (University of Florida), Elizabeth Katherine Garcia (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Pedro Garcia (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Chris Hughes (University of North Carolina Wilmington), Raymond C. Pitts (University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Abstract: Drugs of abuse (including opioids) are often implicated in impulsive choice. One commonly abused prescription opioid, oxycodone, however, has not been examined extensively. Additionally, research on sex differences in impulsive choice, and on the effects of drugs has resulted in conflicting findings. Impulsive choice involves two reinforcer dimensions, magnitude and delay. The current study examined the acute effects of oxycodone on control by reinforcement magnitude and delay across sexes. Rats responded under a concurrent-chains procedure in which reinforcement magnitude and delay were manipulated within-session. The magnitude and delay for one option was constant across the experiment, whereas both the magnitude and delay for the other option changed within sessions. Under baseline, choice was controlled by the combined effects of reinforcement magnitude and delay, with sensitivity to magnitude (0.88) being higher than sensitivity to delay (0.54), on average. However, the difference between sensitivity to magnitude and delay was greater for males. Acute administration of oxycodone decreased sensitivity to both magnitude and delay, with a greater reduction in sensitivity to magnitude. The reduction in sensitivity to magnitude and delay were similar for both sexes. These findings suggest oxycodone may increase impulsive choice by decreasing sensitivity to magnitude more than sensitivity to delay.

Aging and the Discounting of Combination Outcomes in Which Immediate Gains Are Followed by Delayed Losses

KE NING (Washington University in St. Louis), Leonard Green (Washington University in St. Louis), Joel Myerson (Washington University in St. Louis)

The majority of studies on discounting focus on simple delayed outcomes, but many everyday decisions are more complicated. The present studies focused on one such scenario, an iconic self-control situation in which immediate gains are followed by delayed losses. In Experiment 1, college students discounted hypothetical monetary outcomes that combined immediate gains with delayed losses using an adjusting-amount procedure. In Experiment 2, middle-aged (35-50) and older (65-80) adults of lower- and higher-income levels completed a similar procedure. Consistent with previous research, the hyperboloid model accurately described the form of the discounting functions for all groups. Older adults discounted delayed outcomes less steeply than middle-aged adults. Overall, participants tended to discount smaller, delayed losses more steeply than larger ones when presented in combination with immediate gains. Notably, whereas college students and those with below-average income showed no effect of amount on discounting delayed losses when presented alone, those with above-average income discounted the smaller, delayed losses more steeply when presented alone. These results imply complex effects of age and income on how combinations of gains and losses are evaluated, and that might be an important predictor of individual decision-making in everyday choice situations that involve complex outcomes.




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