Auditory Reaction Time

It has been said that "the purpose of the ears is to point the eyes." While the ability of the auditory system to localize sound sources is just one component of our perceptual systems, it has high survival value, and living organisms have found many ways to extract directional information from sound. Although perceptual mysteries remain, the major cues have been known for a long time, and psychological studies have established how accurately we can make localization judgments.

In this regard, Auditory Reaction Times are faster than Visual Reaction Times. Click on the buttons below to test yourself: 

Age Related Observations Regarding Reaction Times


1. Simple reaction time shortens from infancy into the late 20s, then increases slowly until the 50s and 60s, and then lengthens faster as the person gets into his 70s and beyond (Welford, 1977; Jevas and Yan, 2001; Luchies et al., 2002; Rose et al., 2002; Der and Deary, 2006).


2. Luchies et al.(2002) also reported that this age effect was more marked for complex reaction time tasks, and Der and Deary (2006) concurred.


3. Reaction time also becomes more variable with age (Hultsch et al., 2002; Gorus et al., 2008).


4. MacDonald et al. (2008) found that reaction time variability in older adults was usually associated with slower reaction times and worse recognition of stimuli, and suggested that variability might be a useful measure of general neural integrity.


5. Welford (1980) speculates on the reason for slowing reaction time with age. It is not just simple mechanical factors like the speed of nervous conduction. It may be the tendency of older people to be more careful and monitor their responses more thoroughly (Botwinick, 1966). When troubled by a distraction, older people also tend to devote their exclusive attention to one stimulus, and ignore another stimulus, more completely than younger people.


6. Redfern et al., (2002), & Myerson et al. (2007) found that older adults were as adept as younger people at assimilating information, but they did take longer to react.

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