Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Reversal Learning

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_133-3


Reversal learning refers to the ability to alter one’s response after encountering just a few examples of a change in consequences for a behavior. Typically, reversal learning is assessed after training on simple discrimination tasks in which an individual is presented with two (or more) stimuli (such as pictures or objects), and responses to one stimulus are reinforced (i.e., followed by praise, snack foods, or access to a toy) whereas responses to the other stimulus are not. Once a learning criterion is met, the stimulus functions are reversed such that responses to the originally positive stimulus are no longer reinforced and responses to the previously negative stimulus are reinforced. Reversals are often embedded in a variety of instructional tasks and are used as one measure of cognitive inflexibility in individuals diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disability. Discrimination reversal procedures are also widely used in examining the neural mechanisms of behavioral...

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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentAssumption CollegeWorcesterUSA