Impact of age on reaction time Joe cascio

Intro

Throughout a human's life, their body changes. One of the important things that changes is the human brain. With the changes in the brain, the reaction times of the body change. Simple reaction time is the time needed for someone to initiate a prearranged response to a defined stimulus. The uncertainty is when the stimulus will occur. The simple reaction time improves from childbirth until the late twenties. After the twenties, simple reaction time slowly get worse until the person reaches their fifties and their reaction time gets significantly worse after that age category. Men and women differ in their results but men usually have better times than women. Although men may do better in simple reaction time tests, women are able to learn the task at hand faster than men can. After the task has been learned, men and women tend to make the same number of errors in their test. When adults' reaction times start to get worse, women's get worse faster than men do. According to PBS, the peak age for a fast reaction time is 24. It is interesting to see how both gender and age affect reaction time. In this experiment, the impact of age on reaction time will be tested to see which age category has the best reaction time.

The effect of age on reaction time is an extremely important topic. Through this experiment, people will be able to see at what age their reaction time will be at its best and even at its worst. This also effects people in the everyday world in situations such as driving or their reaction to emergency situations. Through this experiment it can also be determined at what age certain people should not be driving because of their lacking reaction time to a normal situation they have been in before. Without knowing when reaction times peak, people will struggle to understand why certain age groups perform better than others at everyday tasks. Reaction time is an important topic in everyday life.

In this experiment, the human brain is almost solely relied on for reactions. This experiment relates to biology through its reliance on the brain and nervous system to respond to a simple task. The brain must trigger the rest of the nervous system to take the action once it notices the change in color on the screen. It sends signals through the body for the hand that is called upon to press the screen, stopping the timer. The nervous system is an extremely important part of human life and enables us to carry out everyday tasks and react to certain situations, relating this experiment to biology.

Hypothesis

The 30-39 age group will have the best (fastest) reaction time amongst the other age groups.

Independent variable: the age group of the participant

Dependent variable: the reaction time of the participant

Materials: iPad with web browser, a quiet place to sit (optional), table (optional), 3 volunteers from each age group, paper and pen to record averages for each person and age group, and the test (http://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime)

Methods

1) Using an iPad, go to http://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime for the reaction time test. 3 volunteers should be gathered from each age group (5-10, 11-19, 20-29, 30-49, 50-59, 60+)

2) Once you have accessed the website, you will be prompted to click to begin the test. Upon doing so, you should wait for the volunteer to be ready and then they may begin. Once they start the test, the screen will turn red and the volunteer should click the screen once it turns green.

3) After one practice round, the participant should take the test again to be recorded this time. The person will be given 5 successful tests and then an average at the end.

4) The person performing the experiment should record the final average given to the participant at the end

5) After three people from each age group have been tested, the times for each age group will be averaged together for final results, showing which age group had the fastest reaction time.

Results

The best (fastest) reaction time was in the 20-29 age group with a 324.79 millisecond average. The worst (slowest) reaction time was in the 5-10 age group with a 680.2 ms average, closely followed by the 60+ age group with a 652.9 ms average. For the 30-49 age group, there was an average of 412.02 ms, and the 50-59 group had an average of 575.12 ms average. Coming in a close second to the 20-29 average, the 11-19 age group had an average of 357.4 ms.

Analysis

These results show how the reaction time of a human starts off bad but peaks at the begging of adulthood and then steadily gets worse again. The youngest category is the worst and slowest reaction time followed by the oldest category. Reaction time in humans is at its fastest at early adulthood, between 20-29. Reaction time gets better from childhood to when the brain and body is done developing at the early twenties. After the twenties, reaction time starts to go in the opposite direction with the aging process, getting worse as humans age. These results show how the brain and reaction time changes throughout a humans life.

Conclusion

My hypothesis was proven correct. Participants of the experiment from the 20-29 age category performed better on the reaction time test than any other age group. This means that people in their twenties have faster reaction times than people of all other ages. Their body has a faster stimulus reaction than most people of other ages. I learned from this experiment how reaction time and the brain changes over time and in the younger peoples case, develops. The youngest age group was the group with the worst time average, but the second and third youngest (11-19,20-29) had the fastest times. This shows how reaction develops with the brain of a child as they grow up and grow physically. This may show how children have such a short attention span that they could not stay focused on the task at hand. On the opposite side of things, there is a steady increase in reaction time from after the 20-29 age group showing how aging affects the brain and in particular, reaction time. This experiment showed how people at the beginning of adulthood have the best reaction time compared to other age groups. Another experiment I could conduct that would branch off the data I found is how the use of electronics is effecting children's reaction time. The slowest reaction time average was put up by the youngest age group. I would conduct a study testing kids that grew up around different amounts of technology to see how this has effected kids. This experiment showed how the reaction time of people changes over time and also shows different trends among age groups that could be further experimented.

Works Cited

http://www.cambridgecognition.com/tests/simple-reaction-time-srt

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/simple%20reaction%20time

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/brains-reaction-time-peaks-age-24-study-finds/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/442800-how-does-aging-affect-reaction-time/

http://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime

Glencoe Health Textbook: The nervous system

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