Allen Neuringer graduated from Far Rockaway High School in 1958, received a BA summa cum laude from Columbia College in 1962, and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1967. His thesis advisor was Richard Herrnstein; most important were fellow students Howie Rachlin, Billy Baum, Bruce Schneider, Phil Hineline, Peter Killeen, Ed Fantino, Richard Schuster, and Martha DiNardo Neuringer. He was a professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, from 1970 until his retirement as MacArthur Professor of Psychology in 2008, but continued to guide research and teach an upper-division course, "Functional Variability," until this year.
Allen and his students have shown that response variability can be reinforced, much like response topography, force, and speed. Together with his student Neal Miller, he published the first demonstration that response variability in individuals with autism can be increased and maintained by reinforcers contingent upon that variability. He also published articles on self-control, responding for food when food is otherwise freely available, music discrimination in pigeons, and self-experimentation. He recently gave the plenary address at the International Quantified Self Conference. Allen lives in a forest in a house he built (from the ground up) with Martha, his partner in love, and Reed students.
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