Punishment learning and self-mutilation in Lesch–Nyhan disease

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 21 April 1977
  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 21 April 1977


THE self-injurious behaviours (SIB) of Lesch–Nyhan children were studied during three learning paradigms: punishment, positive reinforcement and time-out from reinforcement following an attempt at self-injury. Punishment of self-injury by contingent electric finger shock failed to suppress these behaviours but positive reinforcement of non-self injury and time-out procedures were effective. The results stress the importance of environmental factors in the development and control of SIB and suggest the presence of an unusual learning defect which may be related to the specific enzyme deficiency in Lesch–Nyhan disease.

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ANDERSON, L., DANCIS, J., ALPERT, M. et al. Punishment learning and self-mutilation in Lesch–Nyhan disease. Nature 265, 461–463 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1038/265461a0

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