Mitigating resurgence of destructive behavior using the discriminative stimuli of a multiple schedule

Wayne W. Fisher, Ashley M. Fuhrman, Brian D. Greer, Daniel R. Mitteer, Cathleen C. Piazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Results of several recent translational studies have suggested that correlating contextual or discriminative stimuli with the delivery and withholding of reinforcement for the functional communication response (FCR) may mitigate resurgence of destructive behavior, but few, if any, have isolated the effects of those stimuli. In the present study, we first trained the FCR, brought it under stimulus control of a multiple schedule, and thinned its reinforcement schedule in one stimulus context. Next, we conducted resurgence evaluations (i.e., baseline, functional communication training [FCT], extinction challenge) in two novel contexts to test the effects of the discriminative stimuli on resurgence. We programmed one context to include the (a) SD during the FCT phase to signal the availability of reinforcement for the FCR and (b) SΔ during a subsequent extinction challenge to signal the unavailability of reinforcement for the FCR. The other context did not include the SD during the FCT phase, nor the SΔ during the extinction challenge. We expected to see greater persistence of the FCR in the context that included the SD during FCT and less persistence of the FCR and less resurgence of destructive behavior in the context that included the SΔ during the extinction challenge. Obtained results confirmed this latter prediction, but we observed no reliable difference when the SD was present or absent during the FCT phase. Our results have relevance for practitioners in that they provide further empirical support for the use of discriminative stimuli when treating destructive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-277
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the experimental analysis of behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020



  • autism spectrum disorder
  • behavioral momentum theory
  • destructive behavior
  • functional communication training
  • resurgence
  • stimulus control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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