SABA 2023 Innovative Student Research, Master’s Thesis: Carla N. Martinez-Perez

Carla N. Martinez-Perez is a doctoral student in the Behavior Analysis program at the University of Florida, working under the supervision of Dr. Chris Podlesnik. Her thesis project aims to identify and compare the effects of relatively static versus dynamic contingency changes to evaluate whether repeated reinforcement-contingency reversals affect resurgence, and whether the theoretical framework Resurgence as Choice (RaC) can account for the results.
With her project, Carla aims to examine whether rapid contingency reversals could result in resurgence, leading to a rapid appearance followed by a rapid decline in responding with further exposure to extinction. Such findings have implications for understanding the conditions that contribute to both flexible behavior patterns and the durability of behavioral treatments.
While research on resurgence has largely focused on its relevance to relapse, the return of a previously reinforced target behavior despite no longer being reinforced demonstrates behavioral flexibility. Behavioral flexibility is a general term referring to adaptations that promote survival under the pressure of changes in the environment. Unlike relapse, resurgence is beneficial under circumstances related to problem-solving and survival by potentially exploiting replenished sources of reinforcement. Accordingly, an understanding of resurgence provides novel insight into behavioral processes involved in flexible patterns of behavior during common activities such as play, creativity, and seeking resources under competition. Therefore, understanding the behavioral processes contributing to resurgence would provide important insight into both relapse and behavioral flexibility.
Carla would like to thank Dr. Podlesnik, her colleagues, family, and friends, as well as SABA for supporting her master’s thesis research.

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