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Neuropsychologia. 2000;38(5):535-41.

Crossed-uncrossed difference in simple reaction times to lateralized flashes: between- and within-subjects variability.

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UCLA Brain Mapping Division, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-7085, USA.


In unimanual reaction times (RT) to lateralized flashes, contralateral responses tend to be slower than ipsilateral responses. This has been called Crossed-Uncrossed Difference (CUD). The CUD tends to show variability across subjects and across studies, but until now the stability of the CUD in an individual subject has not been investigated. To address the role of inter- and intra-subject variability in the CUD, three normal right handers were tested over 50 experimental sessions of 800 trials each, for a total of 40,000 trials of simple reaction times to lateralized flashes. In each subject, CUDs were computed for each session, over two, three, or more sessions, and over the entire dataset. These CUDs were then compared to the CUDs obtained in a group of 15 normal right handers, each tested once in a single session. Results show that: (i) CUD variability across several sessions in a single subject mimics the variability observed in a sample of subjects tested in a single session; (ii) this variability is considerably reduced when the CUD is computed over at least 2400 trials per subject; (iii) CUDs computed over 2400 and up to 12,000 of trials tend to be extremely similar ( approximately 2 ms) across the three subjects tested here; (iv) when reaction times are ordered from the fastest to the slowest and divided into bins, the CUD is remarkably stable over the entire reaction time distribution; and (v) in contrast to the variability of the CUD, the variability for crossed and uncrossed responses across several sessions in a single subject is small and does not mimic the variability observed in a sample of subjects tested in a single session. Taken together, these data suggest that the intersubject variability in the CUD observed in single experimental sessions does not represent a reliable intersubject difference and that the CUD computed over thousands of trials reflects hard-wired mechanisms of callosal transmission.

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