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Extinction, Relapse, and Behavioral Momentum
Behavioural Processes (2010)
  • Christopher A. Podlesnik
  • Timothy A. Shahan, Utah State University

Previous experiments on behavioral momentum have shown that relative resistance to extinction of operant behavior in the presence of a discriminative stimulus depends upon the baseline rate or magnitude of reinforcement associated with that stimulus (i.e., the Pavlovian stimulus–reinforcer relation). Recently, we have shown that relapse of operant behavior in reinstatement, resurgence, and context renewal preparations also is a function of baseline stimulus–reinforcer relations. In this paper we present new data examining the role of baseline stimulus–reinforcer relations on resistance to extinction and relapse using a variety of baseline training conditions and relapse operations. Furthermore, we evaluate the adequacy of a behavioral momentum based model in accounting for the results. The model suggests that relapse occurs as a result of a decrease in the disruptive impact of extinction precipitated by a change in circumstances associated with extinction, and that the degree of relapse is a function of the pre-extinction baseline Pavlovian stimulus–reinforcer relation. Across experiments, relative resistance to extinction and relapse were greater in the presence of stimuli associated with more favorable conditions of reinforcement and were positively related to one another. In addition, the model did a good job in accounting for these effects. Thus, behavioral momentum theory may provide a useful quantitative approach for characterizing how differential reinforcement conditions contribute to relapse of operant behavior.

  • Behavioral momentum theory,
  • Resistance to change,
  • Extinction,
  • Relapse,
  • Reinstatement,
  • Resurgence,
  • Context renewal,
  • Priming,
  • Review
Publication Date
January 1, 2010
Publisher Statement
Originally published by Elsevier. Publisher's PDF and HTML fulltext available through remote link.
Citation Information
Podlesnik, C. A., & Shahan, T. A. (2010). Extinction, relapse, and behavioral momentum. Behavioural Processes, 84, 400-411.