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Behav Processes. 2012 May;90(1):130-41. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Mar 17.

Relapse processes after the extinction of instrumental learning: renewal, resurgence, and reacquisition.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Vermont, 354 Dewey Hall, 2 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05405-0134, USA. mark.bouton@uvm.edu

Abstract

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 extinction, which collectively suggest that the original learning is saved through extinction. However, although such effects do occur after instrumental extinction, they have not been explored there in as much detail. This article reviews recent research in our laboratory that has investigated three relapse effects that occur after the extinction of instrumental (operant) learning. In renewal, responding returns after extinction when the behavior is tested in a different context; in resurgence, responding recovers when a second response that has been reinforced during extinction of the first is itself put on extinction; and in rapid reacquisition, extinguished responding returns rapidly when the response is reinforced again. The results provide new insights into extinction and relapse, and are consistent with principles that have been developed to explain extinction and relapse as they occur after Pavlovian conditioning. Extinction of instrumental learning, like Pavlovian learning, involves new learning that is relatively dependent on the context for expression.

PMID:
22450305
PMCID:
PMC3355659
DOI:
10.1016/j.beproc.2012.03.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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