Brian Katz

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kennon A Lattal

Committee Co-Chair

Barry Edelstein

Committee Member

Michael Perone


Although the extinction burst is a frequently reported generative effect of extinction, there are few experimental analyses of the phenomenon. The purpose of the present series of experiments was to examine the occurrence, time course, and repeatability of extinction bursts. Six experimentally naive pigeons were exposed to at least five cycles of 5-sessions block of baseline followed by 8-session blocks of extinction. Depending on the condition, baseline sessions were either a fixed-ratio (FR) or variable-ratio (VR) schedule, and transitions from the last baseline session in each cycle to the first extinction session were conducted either between or within sessions. Within a block, subsequent extinction sessions were in effect throughout the session. There was not a single instance of an extinction burst when whole-session response rates were considered. Restricting the analysis to the first minute of an extinction session sometimes revealed a burst, most often during the first extinction session of a block, although this finding was not consistent. The frequency and magnitude of the extinction burst differed across exposures to extinction both across and within pigeons. Additionally, details of how the burst was measured (i.e. the level of analysis and definition of the phenomenon) influenced the occurrence and dimensions of the extinction burst. The results of the three experiments suggest that the way in which extinction is implemented and how the burst is defined influence whether or not a burst-like increase in responding is observed at the onset of extinction. Under the best of conditions, the extinction burst does not appear to be a reliable generative effect of extinction.