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January 2023

The effects of contingent music and differential reinforcement on infantile colic

Author(s): Ayllon, T.

Journal/Book: Behav Res Ther. 1990; 28: 119-25.

Abstract: Infantile Colic is a behavioral syndrome characterized by paroxysms of excessive crying and increased motor activity, hypertonicity of the musculature, excessive flatus and erratic sleeping and feeding patterns. Ten to 40% of all infants are diagnosed as having Colic. The medical evidence to date does not justify any conclusions regarding the etiology or treatment of Colic. Typically, parents are advised to simply wait until Colic has run its course which is often 3-4 months. The behavioral program reported here was designed to increase behavior that competed with crying by reinforcing quiet alertness with music and parental attention. Concurrently, it attempted to inhibit excessive crying by a brief time-out procedure. A group of 8 infants diagnosed as Infant Colic were included in this study. The dependent variable, crying, was measured through direct observations based on hourly samples involving 30 observations of 2-min intervals. The independent variable consisted of a behavioral treatment package. A within-S reversal design was used to assess the functional properties of the treatment. The results show that across all 8 infants the introduction of the treatment package led to a substantial decrease in excessive crying of about 75% of the initial baseline. Further, a functional relationship was identified between the treatment and excessive crying behavior: crying decreased when the treatment was initially introduced, it resumed when the treatment was withdrawn and decreased again when the treatment was reinstated.

Keyword(s): Attention ; Colic psychology; Infant ; Infant, Newborn; Mother Child Relations; Reinforcement Schedule Behavior Therapy methods; Colic therapy; Music Human


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