Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Anthony DeFulio, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cindy Pietras, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sacha Pence, Ph.D.


Context, discriminative stimuli, extinction, maintenance, operant behavior, relapse

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Treatment relapse due to the extinction of a previously reinforced alternative behavior is known as resurgence. Understanding the conditions under which resurgence is mitigated may be important for improving the maintenance of the effects of interventions. One method that has been found to effectively mitigate resurgence is pairing a cue or stimulus with alternative reinforcement and then continuing to present that cue when alternative reinforcement is terminated. Animal studies have found that cues must be paired with alternative reinforcement and target extinction to be effective. However, this finding has not yet been replicated with humans. Demonstration of a similar effect in humans could impact clinical decision-making, as not all behaviors can be easily extinguished. Therefore, this study was designed to replicate findings from resurgence studies involving rats as subjects by using a human operant task and evaluating whether cues are still effective at mitigating resurgence. Results demonstrate that the original animal findings were not replicated in humans indicating that more work is needed to identify the mechanisms of resurgence in human populations.

Included in

Psychology Commons