The aim of this continuation proposal is to further evaluate the degree to which alternative stimuli in the environment compete with problem behavior that is maintained by automatic reinforcement. There are three objectives for the proposed project. The first objective is to continue our evaluation of the assessment and treatment model described in our previous R03 application with a larger number of participants. The persistence of automatically maintained behavior in the presence of alternative stimuli may indicate the viability of different treatment approaches in reducing that behavior. A six-phase evaluation will be conducted using single-case designs. Phase 1 is a functional analysis of problem behavior. Only people whose functional analysis results show that behavior is maintained by automatic reinforcement will participate in Phases 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. In Phases 2 and 3, we will evaluate (a) the persistence of problem behavior when alternative stimuli are available (Phase 2) and (b) the degree to which the person selects engaging in problem behavior versus engaging in alternative activities when the two options are presented within a concurrent operants arrangement (Phase 3). The second objective is to expand the model to determine if we can bias the participant's choice toward alternative stimuli by manipulating antecedent events within a concurrent operants arrangement (Phase 4). In Phase 5, we will evaluate the effectiveness of treatment procedures that are prescribed based on the results of Phases 2, 3, and 4 in reducing problem behavior. The third objective is to evaluate the long-term effects of treatment over a 1-year period (Phase 6). Monthly follow-up probes will be conducted for up to 12 months to evaluate reductions in problem behavior and the continued need for treatment over an extended period of time. We are developing a systematic model for prescribing reinforcement-based treatments for behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement directly from assessment data. We will extend our previous work by evaluating (a) the degree to which we can bias the participants' responses toward obtaining alternative sources of reinforcement, and (b) the effects of treatment over a 1-year period.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-SSS-C (05))
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Oster-Granite, Mary Lou
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University of Iowa
Schools of Medicine
Iowa City
United States
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Berg, Wendy K; Wacker, David P; Ringdahl, Joel E et al. (2016) An integrated model for guiding the selection of treatment components for problem behavior maintained by automatic reinforcement. J Appl Behav Anal 49:617-38