Graduation Date

Spring 5-4-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Brian Greer


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 either diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, an intellectual disability, or who were neurotypical. We compared levels of renewal in two, three-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 two experiments indicated three general findings. First, extinction plus differential reinforcement more effectively disrupted target behavior in Context B relative to extinction alone. Second, renewal tended to be greater during extinction alone relative to extinction plus differential reinforcement. Third, the magnitude of renewal depended on a history of extinction for the alternative response in Context A. We discuss methodological implications for the treatment of severe destructive behavior.

Available for download on Thursday, April 22, 2021