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J Gerontol. 1982 May;37(3):342-8.

Age and simple reaction time.


Although simple reaction time (RT) to a tone showed a statistically significant increase between 18 and 93 years of age in a sample of 220 men and women, the amount of increase was slight, less than 2 msec/decade. Consequently, the appreciable slowing of more typical behavior with age does not seen attributable to some general process in the central nervous system as has been argued. This degree of stability found for simple RT with age, unexpected from the body of previous work, may reflect equivalence of age groups and use of optimal RT technique. In a second study eight old participants (73 to 84 years) matched on the optimal technique with eight young participants (18 to 24 years) were markedly slower with a long constant preparatory interval but not with elimination of timing cues. Together, the two studies show that simple high level of preparation was either easy of impossible to attain. Behavioral slowing with age can result from ineffective control processes.

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