Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior

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The Basis of Behavioral Momentum in the Nonlinearity of Strength

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 07:26

The persistence of operant responding in the context of distractors and opposing forces is of central importance to the success of behavioral interventions. It has been successfully analyzed with Behavioral Momentum Theory. Key data from the research inspired by that theory are reanalyzed in terms of more molecular behavioral mechanisms: the demotivational effects of disruptors, and their differential impacts on the target response and other responses that interact with them. Behavioral momentum is regrounded as a nonlinear effect of motivation and reinforcement rate on response probability and persistence. When response probabilities are high, more energy is required to further increase or to decrease them than when they are low. Classic Behavioral Momentum Theory effects are reproduced with this account. Finally, it is shown how the new account involving motivation and competition is closely related to the metaphor of force and action that is at the core of Behavioral Momentum Theory.

Categories: Academic Journals

Effects of response preference on resistance to change

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 04:40

Treatments based on differential reinforcement of alternative behavior, such as functional communication training, are widely used. Research regarding the maintenance of related treatment effects is limited. Nevin and Wacker (2013) provided a conceptual framework, rooted in behavioral momentum theory, for the study of treatment maintenance that addressed two components: (a) reemergence of problem behavior, and (b) continued expression of appropriate behavior. In the few studies on this topic, focus has been on variables impacting the reemergence of problem behavior, with fewer studies evaluating the persistence of appropriate behavior. Given the findings from applied research related to functional communication training, variables related to response topography, such as response preference, may impact this aspect of maintenance. In the current study, the impact of response preference on persistence was evaluated in the context of functional communication training for individuals who did not exhibit problem behavior (Experiment 1) and for individuals with a history of reinforcement for problem behavior (Experiment 2). High-preferred mands were more persistent than low-preferred mands. These findings suggest that response related variables, such as response preference, impact response persistence and further suggest that response related variables should be considered when developing interventions such as functional communication training.

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The role of response force on the persistence and structure of behavior during extinction

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 22:50

Behavior Momentum Theory has emerged as a prominent account of resistance to change in both basic and applied research. Although laboratory studies often define precise, repeatable responses, application research often deals with response classes that may vary widely along a number of dimensions. In general, Behavior Momentum Theory has not addressed how response dimensions impact resistance to change, providing an opportunity to expand the model in new directions. Four rats pressed a force transducer under a multiple variable interval (VI) 60-s VI 60-s schedule of reinforcement. In one component, responses satisfied the schedule only if the response force fell within a “low” force band requirement; responses in the other schedule were required to satisfy a “high” force band. Once responding stabilized, extinction was programmed for three sessions. Then, the procedures were replicated. The results showed that response force came under discriminative control, but force requirements had no impact on resistance to extinction. In a follow-up condition, the schedule was changed to a multiple VI 30-s VI 120-s schedule and the low-force band operated in both components. The results showed that behavior maintained by the VI 30-s schedule was generally more resistant to extinction. A secondary analysis showed that force distributions created under baseline maintained during extinction. Overall, the results suggest that differential response force requirements prevailing in steady state do not affect the course of extinction.

Categories: Academic Journals

Tony nevin: the embrace of translational work by a basic scientist

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 22:30

Here I summarize John A. “Tony” Nevin's evolution as a translational author. All of his publications were classified by title and content as being primarily experimental analysis of behavior or translational. Translational works were subtyped as interpretative, descriptive research, or experimental research. During the first 20 years of his publication career, Tony published exclusively experimental analysis of behavior work. In 1982, he began a series of interpretative translational analyses on topics of significant social importance. These interpretative papers translated behavioral science into logical accounts of issues of war and peace, for example, and performed quantitative analyses of available data to show that social behavior, even at the level of the group or society, conforms to predictions based on established behavioral principles. Tony began experimental translational research in 1990, first to establish whether his analysis of behavioral momentum generalized to humans. Several experimental studies later addressed the persistence of clinically relevant behavior and treatment relapse. The objective descriptions of Tony's publication patterns are punctuated with anecdotes from our 32-year collaboration and friendship.

Categories: Academic Journals

Reflexivity without identity matching training: a first demonstration

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 22:26

Until now, the equivalence property of reflexivity—matching physically identical stimuli to themselves after training on a set of arbitrary matching relations—has not been demonstrated in any animal, human or nonhuman. Previous reports of reflexivity have either implicitly or explicitly involved reinforced training on other identity matching relations. Here we demonstrate reflexivity without prior identity matching training. Pigeons received concurrent successive matching training on three arbitrary matching tasks: AB (hue–form), BC (form–hue), and AC (hue–hue with different hues in the A and C sets). Afterwards, pigeons were tested for BB (form–form) reflexivity. Consistent with the predictions of Urcuioli's () theory, pigeons preferentially responded to B comparison stimuli that matched the preceding B sample stimuli in testing (i.e., BB reflexivity). A separate experiment showed that a slightly different set of arbitrary matching baseline relations yielded a theoretically predicted “anti-reflexivity” (or emergent oddity) effect in two of five pigeons. Finally, training on just two arbitrary successive matching tasks (AB and BC) did not yield any differential BB responding in testing for five of eight pigeons, with two others showing reflexivity and one showing antireflexivity. These data complement previous findings of symmetry and transitivity (the two other properties of equivalence) in pigeons.

Greater reinforcement rate during training increases spontaneous recovery

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 06:45

Spontaneous recovery occurs when a previously reinforced and recently extinguished response reemerges over the course of time, often at the beginning of a new session of extinction. Spontaneous recovery could underlie instances of treatment relapse that threaten otherwise effective behavioral interventions for problem behavior. In two experiments, we arranged multiple schedules with pigeons and a human child to assess the effects of different training reinforcer rates on spontaneous recovery. In both experiments, responding was both more resistant to extinction and more likely to relapse following training with greater reinforcement rates upon returning to extinction after time off from extinction testing. A quantitative model based on behavioral momentum theory accounted well for the data, which suggests reexposure to the extinction context following time off during extinction resulted in (1) the failure of extinction learning to generalize, and (2) greater generalization of original learning during training. The present model attempts to quantify theories attributing spontaneous recovery to changes in temporal context.

Categories: Academic Journals

Preference, resistance to change, and the cumulative decision model

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 06:40

According to behavioral momentum theory (Nevin & Grace, 2000a), preference in concurrent chains and resistance to change in multiple schedules are independent measures of a common construct representing reinforcement history. Here I review the original studies on preference and resistance to change in which reinforcement variables were manipulated parametrically, conducted by Nevin, Grace and colleagues between 1997 and 2002, as well as more recent research. The cumulative decision model proposed by Grace and colleagues for concurrent chains is shown to provide a good account of both preference and resistance to change, and is able to predict the increased sensitivity to reinforcer rate and magnitude observed with constant-duration components. Residuals from fits of the cumulative decision model to preference and resistance to change data were positively correlated, supporting the prediction of behavioral momentum theory. Although some questions remain, the learning process assumed by the cumulative decision model, in which outcomes are compared against a criterion that represents the average outcome value in the current context, may provide a plausible model for the acquisition of differential resistance to change.

Categories: Academic Journals

Multiple schedules, off-baseline reinforcement shifts, and resistance to extinction

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 07:05

Resistance to extinction in a target multiple-schedule component varies inversely with the rate of reinforcement arranged in an alternative component during baseline. The present experiment asked whether changing the reinforcer rate in an alternative component would impact extinction of target component responding if those changes occurred in an off-baseline phase during which the target component was never experienced. Pigeons' key pecking was studied in three types of conditions, and each condition consisted of three phases. In Phase 1, pecking produced food in the target and alternative components of a multiple schedule according to variable-interval 60-s schedules. In Phase 2, the alternative-component stimulus was presented alone in a single schedule. Pecking during this phase produced the same reinforcer rate as in baseline in the Control condition, a higher rate of food (variable-interval 15 s) in the High-Rate condition, or was extinguished in the Extinction condition. Extinction of target- and alternative-component key pecking then was assessed in a multiple schedule during the final phase of each condition. Resistance to extinction of target-component key pecking was the same between the Control and High-Rate conditions but lower in the Extinction condition. These findings are discussed in terms of discrimination and generalization processes.

Categories: Academic Journals

Testing complex animal cognition: Concept learning, proactive interference, and list memory

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 07:00

This article describes an approach for assessing and comparing complex cognition in rhesus monkeys and pigeons by training them in a sequence of synergistic tasks, each yielding a whole function for enhanced comparisons. These species were trained in similar same/different tasks with expanding training sets (8, 16, 32, 64, 128 … 1024 pictures) followed by novel-stimulus transfer eventually resulting in full abstract-concept learning. Concept-learning functions revealed better rhesus transfer throughout and full concept learning at the 128 set, versus pigeons at the 256 set. They were then tested in delayed same/different tasks for proactive interference by inserting occasional tests within trial-unique sessions where the test stimulus matched a previous sample stimulus (1, 2, 4, 8, 16 trials prior). Proactive-interference functions revealed time-based interference for pigeons (1, 10 s delays), but event-based interference for rhesus (no effect of 1, 10, 20 s delays). They were then tested in list-memory tasks by expanding the sample to four samples in trial-unique sessions (minimizing proactive interference). The four-item, list-memory functions revealed strong recency memory at short delays, gradually changing to strong primacy memory at long delays over 30 s for rhesus, and 10 s for pigeons. Other species comparisons and future directions are discussed.

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Direct remembering, mediated remembering, and atypical forgetting functions

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 06:55

Atypical forgetting functions have been demonstrated in several recent studies of delayed matching to sample, in which experimental conditions are altered partway through the retention interval. The forgetting functions are atypical in that accuracy or discriminability is not always a negatively accelerated monotonic function of increasing retention interval duration, but may increase at later times in the retention interval. Atypical forgetting functions reflect changes in levels of discrimination. A switch from a lower level to a higher level of discrimination, or vice versa, can occur at any time in the retention interval. The behavioral theories of remembering proposed by Nevin, Davison, Odum, and Shahan (2007), and White and Brown (2014), offer quantitative predictions of forgetting functions that differ in intercept or slope. Both theories are able to account for atypical forgetting functions, by assuming time-independent changes in the mediating effect of attending to sample and comparison stimuli (in Nevin et al.'s model) or in the direct effect of the context of reinforcement of the conditional discrimination (in White & Brown's model). Despite differences in their main assumptions, the theories have an edge over any theory that assumes that forgetting is time-dependent.

Categories: Academic Journals

Impetus for a robust science of behavior: A review of nevin's Behavioral Momentum: A scientific metaphor

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 22:26

Nevin provides a scientific role model, illustrating momentum in his own research and providing impetus through his effects on the scientific behavior of his students and his colleagues. I discuss his book in the context of a review of the history of the concept of extinction, I cite his introduction of signal-detection analysis into behavior analysis as a contribution not covered in this book, I briefly consider applications, such as the potential extension to fluency procedures in education, and I critique his concept of momentum, relating it to other metaphors for maintained behavior such as the dynamics of sensory systems and robustness in biological accounts of the stability of phenotypes.

Categories: Academic Journals

Divided stimulus control: Which key did you peck, or What color was it?

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 03:51

Responding on concurrent schedules produced a conditional discrimination (Phases 1 and 2), asking either which peck produced the event, or which color the keys were when the event was produced. In Phases 3 and 4, reinforcer delivery or a delay in blackout was interpolated between responding and the conditional discrimination. In Phase 1, location versus color discrimination accuracy was controlled by the relative reinforcer frequency for correct responses to these questions (divided stimulus control). In Phases 2 to 4, relative reinforcer frequency for correct responses to these questions was .5, and the relative frequency with which concurrent-schedule responses produced the questions was varied. This variation had no clear effect on the accuracy of reporting Location or Color. These results are consistent with the model of divided control suggested by Davison and Elliffe (2010). Arranging a 3-s reinforcer between responding and choice decreased both color and location accuracy, but a 3-s delay only decreased location accuracy. Thus, in concurrent-schedule performance, both ambient stimuli prior to a reinforcer and the location of the just-reinforced response are available as discriminative stimuli following the reinforcer. Control of postreinforcer responding is divided between these according to their association with the relative frequency of subsequent reinforcers.

Categories: Academic Journals

Behavioral variability as avoidance behavior

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 05:12

This study aimed to investigate whether variable patterns of responses can be acquired and maintained by negative reinforcement under an avoidance contingency. Six male Wistar rats were exposed to sessions in which behavioral variability was reinforced according to a Lag contingency: Sequences of three responses on two levers had to differ from one, two or three previous sequences for shocks to be avoided (Lag 1, Lag 2 and Lag 3, respectively). Performance under the Lag conditions was compared with performance on a Yoke condition in which the animals received the same reinforcement frequency and distribution as in the Lag condition but behavioral variability was not required. The results showed that most of the subjects varied their sequences under the Lag contingencies, avoiding shocks with relatively high probability (≥ 0.7). Under the Yoke procedure, responding continued to occur with high probability, but the behavioral variability decreased. These results suggest that behavioral variability can be negatively reinforced.

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Wed, 11/29/2017 - 05:12
Categories: Academic Journals

THE epistemologies of parsimony: A review of Ockham's razors: A user's manual by Elliott Sober

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 00:35

Sober analyzes two paradigms of parsimony that have been used successfully in science. These are associated with two interpretations of probability: Bayesian and frequentist. Sober applies these paradigms to problems in biology, psychology, and philosophy. In the chapter on psychology, he argues that objective data consisting of environmental input and two or more concurrent responses could be used to refute empirically the radical behaviorist thesis that probability of learned responses can be accounted for solely on the basis of environmental variables. Sober believes that such data are readily available and offers a thought experiment to illustrate his point. Behavior analysts, however, would want actual experimental data, undoubtedly with animals, before accepting any such refutation. Nonetheless, Sober's philosophical point about the type of experiment that would be capable of refuting this thesis is valid. The behavior analytic program, however, does not depend upon the truth of this thesis.

Categories: Academic Journals

The effects of reinforcer magnitude in the preceding and upcoming ratios on between-ratio pausing in multiple, mixed, and single fixed-ratio schedules

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 00:35

Hens responded under multiple fixed-ratio schedules with equal response requirements and either a 1-s or a 6-s reinforcer. Upcoming reinforcer size was indicated by key color. Components were presented in a quasirandom series so that all four component transitions occurred. Postreinforcement pauses were affected by the upcoming and preceding reinforcer size, with longer pauses after large reinforcers followed by small reinforcers than when followed by large ones, and longer pauses after small reinforcers that were followed by small reinforcers rather than large ones. Pauses increased with fixed-ratio size and the effects of reinforcer size were larger the larger the ratio. When reinforcer size was not signaled—mixed fixed-ratio schedules—pauses were shorter after small than after large reinforcers. Signalling the upcoming reinforcer attenuated the effect of the previous reinforcer size on pause duration when small was followed by small and when either small or large by large, but enhanced the effect when large was followed by small. There was no effect of reinforcer size on pause duration when single fixed-ratio schedules were arranged. The effects of reinforcer size on pauses depends on the size and range of the fixed ratios as well as the exact procedures used in the study.

Categories: Academic Journals

Contextual influence over deriving others' true beliefs using a relational triangulation perspective-taking protocol (RT-PTP-M1)

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 03:36

This paper introduces the relational triangulation framework as a functional contextual expansion of the established Relational Frame Theory (Hayes, Barnes-Holmes, & Roche, 2001) account of perspective-taking. Initial support for the new framework is provided through data collected with a novel relational triangulation perspective-taking protocol configured in the present study to show contextual influence over deriving true belief in others following the direct training of a “seeing leads to knowing” repertoire (Leslie & Frith, 1988). Eight verbally competent adults were directly trained to make operant discriminations on a first set of target stimuli (i.e., the identities of three distinct figurines) and then directly trained to make contextually controlled deictic pointing responses to a second set of target stimuli (i.e., to the relative location of a target beacon according to the signaled spatial perspective of the self vs. two others). The test for derivation was whether the stimuli that had directly acquired contextual control over deictic perspective-taking during training would spontaneously exert contextual control over figurine discrimination relative to the spatial perspective of the two others. That is, passing the test for derivation required participants to infer that the others would “report what they were seeing” the same way that the self would if the self were in their position, suggesting coordination of the self and others. Seven of the eight participants exhibited the intended derivation of the others' “true beliefs,” confirming successful relational triangulation perspective-taking protocol configuration for this purpose.

Categories: Academic Journals

Concurrent variable-interval variable-ratio schedules in a dynamic choice environment

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 02:27

Most studies of operant choice have focused on presenting subjects with a fixed pair of schedules across many experimental sessions. Using these methods, studies of concurrent variable- interval variable-ratio schedules helped to evaluate theories of choice. More recently, a growing literature has focused on dynamic choice behavior. Those dynamic choice studies have analyzed behavior on a number of different time scales using concurrent variable-interval schedules. Following the dynamic choice approach, the present experiment examined performance on concurrent variable-interval variable-ratio schedules in a rapidly changing environment. Our objectives were to compare performance on concurrent variable-interval variable-ratio schedules with extant data on concurrent variable-interval variable-interval schedules using a dynamic choice procedure and to extend earlier work on concurrent variable-interval variable-ratio schedules. We analyzed performances at different time scales, finding strong similarities between concurrent variable-interval variable-interval and concurrent variable-interval variable- ratio performance within dynamic choice procedures. Time-based measures revealed almost identical performance in the two procedures compared with response-based measures, supporting the view that choice is best understood as time allocation. Performance at the smaller time scale of visits accorded with the tendency seen in earlier research toward developing a pattern of strong preference for and long visits to the richer alternative paired with brief “samples” at the leaner alternative (“fix and sample”).

Categories: Academic Journals


Fri, 11/03/2017 - 08:11

The resurgence of time allocation with pigeons was studied in three experiments. In Phase 1 of each experiment, response-independent food occurred with different probabilities in the presence of two different keylights. Each peck on the key changed its color and the food probability in effect. In Phase 2, the food probabilities associated with each keylight were reversed and, in Phase 3, food was discontinued in the presence of either keylight. The food probabilities were .25 and .75, in Experiment 1, and 0.0 and 1.0 in Experiment 2. More time was allocated to the keylight correlated with more probable food in Phases 1 and 2, and in Phase 3 resurgence of time allocation occurred for two of three pigeons in Experiment 1, and for each of four pigeons in Experiment 2. Because time had to be allocated to either of the two alternatives in Experiments 1 and 2, however, it was difficult to characterize the time allocation patterns in Phase 3 as resurgence when changeover responding approached zero. In Experiment 3 this issue was addressed by providing a third alternative uncorrelated with food such that in each phase, after 30 s in the presence of either keylight correlated with food, the third alternative always was reinstated, requiring a response to access either of the two keylights correlated with food. In this experiment, the food probabilities were similar to those in Experiment 1. Resurgence of time allocation occurred for each of three pigeons under this procedure. The results of these experiments suggest that patterns of time allocation resurge similarly to discrete responses and to spatial and temporal patterns of responding.

Categories: Academic Journals