The experimental analysis of human operant behavior following traumatic brain injury

Michael W. Schlund, Gary M. Pace

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may produce deficits in discriminating and responding appropriately to consequences. Commonly, insensitivity to consequences is attributed to deficits in cognitive processes, particularly executive functioning. The present investigation examined the hypothesis that TBI may reduce control exerted by reinforcers over behavior. Results of basic operant research on reinforcement processes with individuals with TBI may have clinical value for understanding and ultimately remediating deficits associated with TBI. In experiment 1, responding by adults with TBI and non-injured controls was investigated under reinforcement contingencies that differentially reinforced responding and the absence of responding within sessions. Results showed that most TBI subjects obtained lower reinforcement rates than control subjects, especially under contingencies requiring the absence of responding. In experiment 2, results showed that the addition of stimuli correlated with reinforcement improved one subject's performance. These results suggest that TBI may differentially reduce sensitivity to response-reinforcer contingencies and some environmental changes may increase sensitivity. Results also suggest parallels between deficits in executive functioning and deficits in operant behavior. Copyright (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-168
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Interventions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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