Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Barry A. Edelstein
Behavioral interventions are commonly implemented to manage agitation in older adults with dementia. However, the extent to which operant conditioning can occur in this population is unclear. The present study used a button-pressing task to evaluate the sensitivity of the responding of individuals with probable Alzheimer's disease to changes in schedules of reinforcement. Results indicate that operant conditioning can occur in older adults with AD. Specifically, three participants with AD exhibited responding that was highly sensitive to a transition from a fixed interval schedule to an extinction schedule. One participant's responding was sensitive to a more subtle transition. Comparison data is presented from older controls and college students. Clinical implications of findings and suggestions for future research are presented.
Spira, Adam P., "Operant conditioning in older adults with Alzheimer's disease" (2004). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 2125.