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.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #267
Disrupting Established Operant Behavior
Sunday, May 28, 2017
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom E
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Daniel Bell-Garrison (West Virginia University)

Operant behavior often is disrupted by adding, changing, or eliminating contingencies to those currently maintaining a response. The research to be presented in this symposium offers examples of how additions (Lattal) or subtle changes in contingencies (Bell-Garrison, Iversen) affect post-change performances. Lattals research shows both disruptive and nondisruptive effects of adding response-independent reinforcers when responding is maintained by long (30 s) differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate schedules. In Bell-Garrisons experiments, a short-valued DRL schedule requirement (1 s) was occasionally added when responding was otherwise maintained under a longer (15-20 s) DRL schedule. The experiment included a control for changes in reinforcement rate as the short DRL intrusions change response rates. Disruptions in DRL 20-s performance were greater as the number of short DRLs increased. Iversen found that subtle changes in the response requirement for unsignaled delayed reinforcement altered the cohesiveness of responses and thus the expected patterns of responding.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Animal Research, Delayed Reinforcement, DRL Schedules

CANCELED: Response-Reinforcer Dependency, Response Rates, and Resistence to Change

ITALO SIQUEIRA DE CASTRO TEIXEIRA (Universidade de Brasília), Carlos Renato Xavier Cancado (Universidade de Brasilia)

An experiment with rats assessed how baseline-response rates modulate the effects of the response-reinforcer dependency on resistance to change. In baseline, reinforcers occurred at the same rate after variable interreinforcer intervals in each component of a two-component multiple schedule. The dependency was 10%, in one component (i.e., a concomitant VI-VT schedule), and 100%, in the other. In one condition, baseline-response rates were equated between components (a tandem VI DRL was in effect in the 100% component); the response-rate difference between components was not controlled in a second condition (i.e., VI in effect in the 100% component). In two subsequent conditions, response rates in the 100% component (i.e., tandem VI DRL) were, respectively, 40-60% and 70-90% higher than those in the 10% component. Resistance to extinction was not differential when baseline-response rates were equated between components, but was greater in the 10% than in the 100% component when baseline-response rates were higher in the latter. Additionally, the magnitude of this differential resistance was directly related to the difference in baseline-response rates between components. These results replicate previous findings (i.e., greater resistance of lower response rates) and suggest that the dependency affected resistance to change as one procedure that alters baseline-response rates.

Occasional Relaxation of Differential-Reinforcement-of-Low-Rates Requirements Increases Responding
DANIEL BELL-GARRISON (West Virginia University)
Abstract: Pigeons pecked on a two-component multiple schedule. In one (static) component, a differential reinforcement of low rates (DRL) 15 or 20-s schedule was programmed. In the other component the same DRL schedule was in effect, but occasional DRL 1-s schedules were also programmed according to a variable time (VT) schedule. When the VT was sufficiently long (10 min.), response rates increased in both components. As the VT was shortened, rates differentially increased during the component with added DRL 1-s reinforcers. Initially, response rates increased during the static DRL 15-s component even though the number of reinforcers earned in that component decreased. Response rates may have increased during both components because the presence of DRL 1-s reinforcers was not discriminable. As such, the components were functionally identical and response rates increased undifferentially. As DRL 1-s reinforcers were delivered more frequently, these reinforcers became more discriminable and pigeons began responding differentially.
Complexities Regarding Contingencies of Delayed Reinforcement
IVER H. IVERSEN (University of North Florida)
Abstract: Operant behavior can be established with delays up to 30 s. The current research addresses how subjects (rats) respond to changes in contingencies of reinforcement after behavior has been acquired with delayed reinforcement. A nose-poking response produced a single food pellet after an unsignaled, 8-s resetting delay. After acquisition, rats were exposed to a Fixed-Duration (FD) schedule with a gradually increasing requirement up to 1 s or to Fixed Ratio (FR) up to 5; the delay began when the response requirement had been satisfied. Behavior was maintained under small valued FD or FR schedules but in a very inefficient manner with considerable response variability. The delay was then set to zero s to compare to ordinary acquisition on such simple schedules in the same subjects; behavior improved in efficiency and variability was reduced but not as much as for comparison rats who acquired the same response under FD 1 s or FR 5 without delay. Contingencies of delayed reinforcement are complex and induce response variability that does not easily recover when delays are removed. The paper will present various methodological issues related to studying the effects of changing contingencies of delayed reinforcement.



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