Relapse of operant behavior after response elimination with an extinction or an omission contingency

Catalina N. Rey, Eric A. Thrailkill, Kate L. Goldberg, Mark E. Bouton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The present study compared relapse after responding was eliminated by extinction or omission training in rats. In Experiment 1, lever pressing was reinforced with food pellets in Context A and then eliminated with either extinction or omission training in Context B. The response was then tested in Contexts A and B in either the presence or absence of free food pellets delivered on a random time schedule. All rats showed higher responding when tested in Context A than Context B, and there was little evidence that omission training attenuated this ABA renewal effect. Noncontingent pellets increased responding after extinction but not after omission. However, when responding on the last day of response elimination was compared to responding during the test in the response-elimination context, there was some evidence that omission-trained rats showed a small increase in responding even when tested with free pellets. Results of Experiment 2 suggest this increase was not due to differences in the temporal distribution of pellets during elimination and the test, and that the result might be due to mere removal of the omission contingency, but any such effect is small and difficult to detect statistically. The results provide new information about factors generating relapse after omission training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-140
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • differential reinforcement of other behavior
  • extinction
  • omission
  • reinstatement
  • relapse
  • renewal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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