Mark E. Bouton's research while affiliated with University of Vermont and other places

Publications (191)

Article
Four experiments with rat subjects asked whether a partial reinforcement extinction effect (PREE) occurs in taste aversion learning. The question has received little attention in the literature, and to our knowledge no taste aversion experiment has previously demonstrated a PREE. In each of the present experiments, experimental groups received a ta...
Article
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This article reviews recent findings from the author’s laboratory that may provide new insights into how habits are made and broken. Habits are extensively practiced behaviors that are automatically evoked by antecedent cues and performed without their goal (or reinforcer) “in mind.” Goal-directed actions, in contrast, are instrumental behaviors th...
Article
The prelimbic and infralimbic cortices of the rodent medial prefrontal cortex mediate the effects of context and goals on instrumental behavior. Recent work from our laboratory has expanded this understanding. Results have shown that the prelimbic cortex is important for the modulation of instrumental behavior by the context in which the behavior i...
Article
Four experiments manipulated the context in which taste-aversion conditioning occurred when the reinforcer was devalued after instrumental learning. In all experiments, rats learned to lever press in an operant conditioning chamber and then had an aversion to the food-pellet reinforcer conditioned by pairing it with lithium chloride (LiCl) in eithe...
Article
Instrumental (operant) behavior can be goal directed, but after extended practice it can become a habit triggered by environmental stimuli. There is little information, however, about the variables that encourage habit learning, or about the development of discriminated habits that are actually triggered by specific stimuli. (Most studies of habit...
Article
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An instrumental action can be goal-directed after a moderate amount of practice and then convert to habit after more extensive practice. Recent evidence suggests, however, that habits can return to action status after different environmental manipulations. The present experiments therefore asked whether habit learning interferes with goal direction...
Article
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This article reviews the behavioral neuroscience of extinction, the phenomenon in which a behavior that has been acquired through Pavlovian or instrumental (operant) learning decreases in strength when the outcome that reinforced it is removed. Behavioral research indicates that neither Pavlovian nor operant extinction depends substantially on eras...
Article
Two experiments with rat subjects separated learning about the discriminative stimulus versus the operant response in the extinction of discriminated operant learning. Each was designed to separate 2 forms of error that could generate extinction learning from an error-correction perspective: Stimulus error, where the discriminative stimulus overpre...
Article
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Instrumental behaviors that are goal-directed actions after moderate amounts of training can become habits after more extended training. Little research has asked how actions and habits are affected by retroactive interference treatments like extinction. The present experiments begin to fill this gap in the literature. In Experiments 1a and 1b, lev...
Article
Pavlovian learning is influenced by at least 2 temporal variables: The time between the onset of the conditioned stimulus (conditional stimulus [CS]) and presentation of the unconditioned stimulus (US), and the time between successive conditioning trials (the intertrial interval, or intertribal interval [ITI]). Wagner's Sometimes Opponent Process (...
Article
A core feature of associative models, such as those proposed by Allan Wagner (Rescorla & Wagner, 1972; Wagner, 1981), is that conditioning proceeds in a trial-by-trial fashion, with increments and decrements in associative strength occurring on each occasion that the conditioned stimulus (conditional stimulus, or CS) is present either with or witho...
Article
The present experiments aimed to expand our understanding of the role of the prelimbic cortex (PL) in the contextual control of instrumental behavior. Research has previously shown that the PL is involved when the "physical context," or chamber in which an instrumental behavior is trained, facilitates performance of the instrumental response (Trask...
Article
Three experiments examined the return of a habitual instrumental response to the status of goal-directed action. In all experiments, rats received extensive training in which lever pressing was reinforced with food pellets on a random-interval schedule of reinforcement. In Experiment 1, the extensively-trained response was not affected by condition...
Article
Recent findings from our laboratory suggest that an extensively-practiced instrumental behavior can appear to be a goal-directed action (rather than a habit) when a second behavior is added and reinforced during intermixed final sessions (Shipman, Trask, Bouton, & Green, 2018). The present experiments were designed to explore and understand this fi...
Article
The present study compared relapse after responding was eliminated by extinction or omission training in rats. In Experiment 1, lever pressing was reinforced with food pellets in Context A and then eliminated with either extinction or omission training in Context B. The response was then tested in Contexts A and B in either the presence or absence...
Article
Full-text available
Operant (instrumental) conditioning is a laboratory analog for voluntary behavior and involves learning to make a response for a reinforcing outcome. The prelimbic cortex (PL), a region of the rodent medial prefrontal cortex, and the dorsomedial striatum (DMS), have been separately established as important in the acquisition of minimally-trained op...
Article
Two experiments with rat subjects examined the renewal of an extinguished instrumental response that occurs when it is returned to the context of a behavior chain in which it had been trained. In both experiments, rats first learned a discriminated heterogeneous chain in which a stimulus (S1) set the occasion for one response (R1), the emission of...
Article
Resurgence is the increase in performance of an extinguished instrumental (operant) response that accompanies the extinction of a response that has been reinforced to replace it. Resurgence may involve processes that are relevant for understanding relapse in applied and clinical settings. While resurgence is known to be a robust phenomenon in human...
Article
Full-text available
This article reviews recent research on the extinction of instrumental (or operant) conditioning from the perspective that it is an example of a general retroactive interference process. Previous discussions of interference have focused primarily on findings from Pavlovian conditioning. The present review shows that extinction in instrumental learn...
Article
Goal-directed actions are instrumental behaviors whose performance depends on the organism’s knowledge of the reinforcing outcome’s value. In contrast, habits are instrumental behaviors that are insensitive to the outcome’s current value. Although habits in everyday life are typically controlled by stimuli that occasion them, most research has stud...
Article
Three experiments with rats explored the hypothesis that inhibited food-seeking can be reinstated by stress if stress has been part of the context of earlier food-seeking. In all experiments, rats first learned to lever press for sucrose pellets and then had the response inhibited through extinction (where responding no longer yielded sucrose pelle...
Article
Scent-detecting dogs perform a sequence, or chain, of behaviors that, at minimum, includes searching followed by a detection behavior that signals the presence of a target stimulus to the handler. However, when working, dogs often engage in prolonged periods of searching without encountering a target. It is therefore important for trainers to use m...
Article
Several studies have examined a role for the prelimbic cortex (PL) and infralimbic cortex (IL) in free operant behavior. The general conclusion has been that PL controls goal-directed actions (instrumental behaviors that are sensitive to reinforcer devaluation) whereas IL controls habits (instrumental behaviors that are not sensitive to reinforcer...
Article
Prediction and control of operant behavior are major goals of behavior analysis. We suggest that achieving these goals can benefit from doing more than identifying the 3-term contingency among the behavior, its setting stimulus, and its consequences. Basic research now underscores the idea that prediction and control require consideration of the be...
Article
Two experiments investigated methods that reduce the resurgence of an extinguished behavior (R1) that occurs when reinforcement for an alternative behavior (R2) is discontinued. In Experiment 1, R1 was first trained and then extinguished while R2 was reinforced during a 5‐ or 25‐session treatment phase. For half the rats, sessions in which R2 was r...
Article
Recent evidence from this laboratory suggests that a context switch after operant learning consistently results in a decrement in responding. One way to reduce this decrement is to train the response in multiple contexts. One interpretation of this result, rooted in stimulus sampling theory, is that conditioning of a greater number of common stimul...
Article
At the end of a diet, even a successful one, people often return to overeating. One potential reason is that the behavioral inhibition that people learn while dieting might not readily transfer outside the context in which it is learned: Basic research indicates that after a behavior is inhibited, a return to the conditioning context or simple remo...
Article
Stressors often contribute to difficulties in maintaining behavior change following a period of abstinence, and may play a significant role in drug relapse. The activation of pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide (PACAP) systems in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) mediates many consequences of chronic stressor exposure. Here...
Article
Behavior chains are composed of sequences of behaviors that minimally include procurement and then consumption. This review surveys recent research from this laboratory that has examined the properties of discriminated heterogeneous behavior chains. In contrast to another review (Thrailkill & Bouton, 2016a), it discusses work examining what makes c...
Article
Behavioral treatment gains established in one setting do not always maintain in other settings. The present review examines the relevance of basic and translational research to understanding failures to maintain treatment gains across settings. Specifically, studies of the renewal effect examine how transitioning away from a treatment setting could...
Article
Significance statement: Extinguished operant behavior can recover ("renew") when tested outside the extinction context. This suggests that behaviors like over-eating or drug-taking might be especially prone to relapse following treatment. In rats, inactivation of the prelimbic cortex (PL) attenuates renewal. However, we report that PL inactivation...
Article
Operant behavior often takes place in a sequence, or chain, of linked responses that lead to a reinforcer. We have recently studied rats performing a discriminated heterogeneous behavior chain that involves the presentation of a discriminative stimulus (e.g., a panel light) to set the occasion for a procurement behavior (e.g., a lever press) that l...
Article
Full-text available
Reports an error in "Effects of reinforcer distribution during response elimination on resurgence of an instrumental behavior" by Scott T. Schepers and Mark E. Bouton ( Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Learning and Cognition , 2015[Apr], Vol 41[2], 179-192). The mean R2 responding during the resurgence test in the alternating group in the...
Article
Full-text available
The SNARE-mediated vesicular transport pathway plays major roles in synaptic remodeling associated with formation of long-term memories, but the mechanisms that regulate this pathway during memory acquisition are not fully understood. Here we identify miRNAs that are up-regulated in the rodent hippocampus upon contextual fear-conditioning and ident...
Data
(A) List of 353 targets with predicted binding sites for 3 or more of the fear-induced miRNAs. (B) List of targets from the vesicle exocytosis pathway with predicted binding sites for 3 or more fear-induced miRNAs. (C) Predicted Targets of miR-153 from top five Metacore networks. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.22467.024
Article
Recent studies suggest a significant role for context in controlling the acquisition and extinction of simple operant responding. The present experiments examined the contextual control of a heterogeneous behavior chain. Rats first learned a chain in which a discriminative stimulus set the occasion for a procurement response (e.g., pulling a chain)...
Article
Five experiments tested implications of the idea that instrumental (operant) extinction involves learning to inhibit the learned response. All experiments used a discriminated operant procedure in which rats were reinforced for lever pressing or chain pulling in the presence of a discriminative stimulus (S), but not in its absence. In Experiment 1,...
Article
Dogs trained to search for contraband perform a chain of behavior in which they first search for a target and then make a separate response that indicates to the trainer that they have found one. The dogs often conduct multiple searches without encountering a target and receiving the reinforcer (i.e., no contraband is present). Understanding extinc...
Article
In three experiments with rat subjects, we examined the effects of the discriminative effects of reinforcers that were presented during or after operant extinction. Experiments 1 and 2 examined resurgence, in which an extinguished operant response (R1) recovers when a second behavior (R2) that has been reinforced to replace it is also placed in ext...
Article
Previous research on the resurgence effect has suggested that reinforcers that are presented during the extinction of an operant behavior can control inhibition of the response. To further test this hypothesis, in three experiments with rat subjects we examined the effectiveness of using reinforcers that were presented during extinction as a means...
Article
Rats received N-methyl-d-aspartate lesions of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) and then 10 aversive conditioning trials in which exposure to a context was paired with footshock. For half the animals, shock was presented 1 min after the onset of each context exposure; for the other half, shock was presented after 10 min. With the 1-min...
Article
Extinguished operant behavior can return or “resurge” when a response that has replaced it is also extinguished. Typically studied in nonhuman animals, the resurgence effect may provide insight into relapse that is seen when reinforcement is discontinued following human contingency management (CM) and functional communication training (FCT) treatme...
Article
Instrumental behavior often consists of sequences or chains of responses that minimally include procurement behaviors that enable subsequent consumption behaviors. In such chains, behavioral units are linked by access to one another and eventually to a primary reinforcer, such as food or a drug. The present experiments examined the effects of extin...
Article
Childhood obesity is associated with medical and psychological comorbidities, and interventions targeting overeating could be pragmatic and have a significant impact on weight. Calorically dense foods are easily available, variable, and tasty which allows for effective opportunities to learn to associate behaviors and cues in the environment with f...
Article
Instrumental behavior often consists of sequences or chains of responses that minimally include procurement behaviors that enable subsequent consumption behaviors. In such chains, behavioral units are linked by access to one another and eventually to a primary reinforcer, such as food or a drug. The present experiments examined the effects of extin...
Article
Three experiments examined time-based and feature-based discrimination learning in a video game task with human participants. Each participant played the role of gunner on a space ship. Participants were told that a periodically presented target object might or might not be hiding an enemy alien, which would appear briefly once the target disappear...
Article
Resurgence has commonly been viewed as the recovery of an extinguished instrumental behavior that occurs when an alternative behavior that has replaced it is also extinguished. Three experiments with rat subjects examined the effects on resurgence of the temporal distribution of reinforcement for the alternative behavior that is presented while the...
Article
Three experiments examined the role of context in punishment learning. In Experiment 1, rats were trained to lever press for food in Context A and then punished for responding in Context B (by presenting response-contingent footshock). Punishment led to complete suppression of the response. However, when responding was tested (in extinction) in Con...
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Full-text available
After a relatively small amount of training, instrumental behavior is thought to be an action under the control of the motivational status of its goal or reinforcer. After more extended training, behavior can become habitual and insensitive to changes in reinforcer value. Recently, instrumental responding has been shown to weaken when tested outsid...
Article
Obesity and its health sequelae affect a significant portion of children in the United States. Yet, the current gold-standard family-based behavioral weight-loss treatments are only effective for one-third of children long-term. Therefore, we developed iROC (Intervention for Regulation of Cues) to specifically target a method to decrease overeating...
Article
Full-text available
Three experiments demonstrated, and examined the mechanisms that underlie, the renewal of extinguished discriminated operant behavior. In Experiment 1, rats were trained to perform 1 response (lever press or chain pull) in the presence of one discriminative stimulus (S; light or tone) in Context A, and to perform the other response in the presence...
Article
Recent research has suggested that operant responses can be weakened when they are tested in new contexts. The present experiment was therefore designed to test whether animals can learn a context-(R-O) relation. Rats were given training sessions in context A, in which one response (R1; lever pressing or chain pulling) produced one outcome (O1) and...
Article
Animals and humans can easily learn to associate an initially neutral cue with food intake through classical conditioning, but extinction of learned appetitive responses can be more difficult. Intermittent or partial reinforcement of food cues causes especially persistent behaviour in animals: after exposure to such learning schedules, the decline...
Article
Unhealthy behavior is responsible for much human disease, and a common goal of contemporary preventive medicine is therefore to encourage behavior change. However, while behavior change often seems easy in the short run, it can be difficult to sustain. This article provides a selective review of research from the basic learning and behavior laborat...
Chapter
This chapter provides a review of the behavioral research literature on extinction. It considers the mechanisms of extinction—the behavioral processes that make it occur. Then the chapter focuses on certain “relapse” phenomena (including but not limited to spontaneous recovery) in which extinguished behavior can return after extinction has reduced...
Article
In resurgence, an extinguished instrumental behavior (R1) recovers when a behavior that has replaced it (R2) is also extinguished. The phenomenon may be relevant to understanding relapse that can occur after the termination of "contingency management" treatments, in which an unwanted behavior (e.g., substance abuse) is reduced by reinforcing an alt...
Article
Previous research has suggested that changing the context after instrumental (operant) conditioning can weaken the strength of the operant response. That result contrasts with the results of studies of Pavlovian conditioning, in which a context switch often does not affect the response elicited by a conditioned stimulus. To begin to make the method...
Article
Two appetitive conditioning experiments with rats examined time-based and trial-based accounts of the partial reinforcement extinction effect (PREE). In the PREE, the loss of responding that occurs in extinction is slower when the conditioned stimulus (CS) has been paired with a reinforcer on some of its presentations (partially reinforced) instead...
Article
The present article reviews the effects of changing the background context on performance in associative learning tasks in humans and animals. The findings are complementary and consistent over animal conditioning (Pavlovian and instrumental learning) and human predictive learning and memory paradigms. In many cases, a context change after learning...
Article
The present data confirm previous reports that freezing in the rat is a useful index of aversive conditioning. Forward conditioning produced reliable CS-evoked freezing in comparison with pseudoconditioning controls. When a white noise was the CS, conditioned freezing increased with shock intensity; when a localized light was the CS, freezing did n...
Article
Appetitive behavior is stronger when organisms are given a variety of foods than when they are repeatedly given the same food (the variety effect). Two experiments examined the variety effect in an operant food-seeking task. In both experiments, rats received a 45-mg food pellet for every 4th lever press over a series of daily 30-min sessions. The...
Article
In resurgence, an operant behavior that has undergone extinction can return ("resurge") when a second operant that has replaced it itself undergoes extinction. The phenomenon may provide insight into relapse that may occur after incentive or contingency management therapies in humans. Three experiments with rats examined the impact of several varia...
Article
Four appetitive conditioning experiments studied generalization between compound conditional stimuli (AB) and their elements (e.g., A or B). In Experiments 1 and 2, rats received conditioning with A and AB, and then extinction with either A or AB. During subsequent testing, there was more generalization of extinction (nonresponding) from the compou...
Article
Three experiments with rats examined the effects of thinning the rate of reinforcement for the alternative behavior in the resurgence paradigm. In all experiments, pressing one lever (L1) was first reinforced and then extinguished while pressing a second alternative lever (L2) was then reinforced. When L2 responding was then extinguished, L1 respon...
Article
It is widely recognized that extinction (the procedure in which a Pavlovian conditioned stimulus or an instrumental action is repeatedly presented without its reinforcer) weakens behavior without erasing the original learning. Most of the experiments that support this claim have focused on several "relapse" effects that occur after Pavlovian extinc...
Article
Obesity and overeating have become fundamental problems in modern society. This article studies the inhibition of food-seeking behavior, and how contextual cues can control it. Rats that had free food in the home cage nevertheless learned to lever press for sucrose or high-fat pellets in a distinctive context (a Skinner box). Lever pressing was the...
Article
Four experiments with rat subjects examined the role of context during the extinction of instrumental (free-operant) behavior. In all experiments, leverpressing was first reinforced on a variable-interval 30-s schedule and then extinguished before being tested in the extinction and renewal contexts. The results identified three important variables...
Article
Four experiments with rat subjects examined whether D-cycloserine (DCS), a partial NMDA agonist, facilitates the extinction of operant lever-pressing reinforced by food. Previous research has demonstrated that DCS facilitates extinction learning with methods that involve Pavlovian extinction. In the current experiments, operant conditioning occurre...
Article
Habituation is a form of learning in which repeated exposure to a stimulus leads to a decrease in responding. Eating involves repeated presentation of the same food stimulus in a meal, and habituation is reliably observed within a meal such that faster rates of habituation are associated with less energy intake. It is possible that repeated present...
Article
Three experiments with rat subjects examined resurgence of an extinguished instrumental response using the procedure introduced by Epstein (1983) with pigeons. There were three phases: (1) initial acquisition of pressing on a lever (L1) for pellet reward, (2) extinction of L1, and (3) a test session in which a second lever (L2) was inserted, briefl...
Article
Four experiments were performed to explore the role of context in operant extinction. In all experiments, leverpressing in rats was first reinforced with food pellets on a variable interval 30-s schedule, then extinguished, and finally tested in the same and a different physical context. The experiments demonstrated a clear ABA renewal effect, a re...
Article
Pavlov (1927/1960) reported that following the conditioning of several stimuli, extinction of one conditioned stimulus (CS) attenuated responding to others that had not undergone direct extinction. However, this secondary extinction effect has not been widely replicated in the contemporary literature. In three conditioned suppression experiments wi...
Article
Four experiments investigated discrimination learning when the duration of the intertrial interval (ITI) signaled whether or not the next conditional stimulus (CS) would be paired with food pellets. Rats received presentations of a 10-s CS separated half the time by long ITIs and half the time by short ITIs. When the long ITI signaled that the CS w...
Article
The modern world is saturated with highly palatable and highly available food, providing many opportunities to associate food with environmental cues and actions (through Pavlovian and operant or instrumental learning, respectively). Basic learning processes can often increase the tendency to approach and consume food, whereas extinction, in which...