Investigations of operant ABA renewal during differential reinforcement

Ryan T. Kimball, Brian D. Greer, Kayla R. Randall, Adam M. Briggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Operant renewal is a form of relapse in which a previously extinguished response recurs due to a change in context. We designed two experiments to examine the impact of differential reinforcement of alternative behavior on ABA renewal in a translational model of relapse with 12 children. We compared levels of renewal in two 3-phase arrangements. In one arrangement, we reinforced target responding in Context A, extinguished responding in Context B, and returned to Context A while continuing to implement extinction. In a second arrangement, an alternative response produced reinforcement in Context B and during the return to Context A. Results across the 2 experiments indicated 3 general findings. First, extinction plus differential reinforcement disrupted target behavior more consistently in Context B relative to extinction alone. Second, renewal tended to be greater and more persistent during extinction alone relative to extinction plus differential reinforcement. Third, the renewal effect appeared to depend on whether the alternative response had a history of extinction in Context A. We discuss methodological implications for the treatment of severe destructive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-205
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • differential reinforcement
  • renewal
  • translational research
  • treatment relapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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