REINFORCING VARIABILITY IN ADOLESCENTS WITH AUTISM

Authors


Psychology Department, Reed College, Portland, Oregon 97202 (E-mail: allen.neuringer@reed.edu).

Abstract

Five adolescents with autism, 5 adult control participants, and 4 child controls received rewards for varying their sequences of responses while playing a computer game. In preceding and following phases, rewards were provided at approximately the same rate but were independent of variability. The most important finding was that, when reinforced, variability increased significantly in all groups. Reinforced variability could provide the necessary behavioral substrate for individuals with autism to learn new responses.

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