What is an Extinction Burst?

An extinction burst refers to one’s reaction to a stimulus that once produced positive reinforcements, but Extinction-Burstthat ceases to exist. If an individual responds to a particular stimulus and is rewarded for his response, he will continue to react appropriately even once the reward ceases. His behavior will increase in order to bring the reward back, and this, by definition, is the “burst” which is encouraged by the extinction of the reward.

What is an example of an extinction burst?

An example of an extinction burst follows:

When one puts money in a vending machine, he then pushes the buttons indicating his selection. If nothing comes out of the machine, it is likely that he will push the buttons again and again. This increase in pushing the buttons can be defined as an extinction burst. Since this individual has, in the past, experienced that putting money in a vending machines results in receiving his food selection, he expects this to be the outcome now, as well. When the outcome is different from what he expects, his behavior increases (i.e. the pushing of the buttons) in order to demand the reward (i.e. the food) he expected. The extinction of the reward has thus caused a burst in reinforcing the initial behavior.

Client Reviews (2)

My son has been receiving ABA at NSPT4Kids for a year and a half. The staff is extremely knowledgeable, caring, and understanding. They have been great working with our insurance company. My son has completely opened up. He now seeks his older sister to play – something he never did for the first four and a half years of his life. He looks at me when he talks to me. We have conversations. It is amazing. I never would have thought ABA could do this. I am so thankful for NSPT4Kids!


Our son has been in the ABA program at North Shore for almost two years now. The gains his therapists have made with him have been without a shadow of a doubt wonderful and remarkable. Everything they do in session, we always reinforce at home to help him continue his gains. The ABA therapists are always quick to update the kids individual program to continue to challenge the kids, even if they are having a rough time that session. We are grateful of what North Shore has done for our son both past, present and moving into the future. As we get ready to send our son into Kindergarten, the North Shore ABA team gets a lot of credit helping to make this milestone happen for him. I highly recommend North Shore for all of their services.

Tom J