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Dylan Larkin

Abilities and Reaction Time Lab

EXS 297-L11 Motor Behavior (2:50pm)


Reaction time, as defined by Coker (2013) is known as the interval of time between the

moment when a stimulus is presented and when a response is initiated (p. 303). Reaction time,

which can be abbreviated as ReacT, varies by person on how one extracts important information

about a stimulus from our awareness of a certain environment. Once extracting information

about a specific stimulus, we can then make a decision on how we respond to the task at hand

(Coker, 2013, p. 29). To help break down how we process information, there are three general

progressions. The first process is input, where the stimulus and situation is identified. Next,

decision making includes selecting a response to intercept. Finally, execution is the third step

towards processing information, which works with organizing and executing the selected

response (Coker, 2013, p. 25).

However, since reaction time only deals with how long it takes for somebody to initiate a

movement response, there are other variables that deal with how long it actually takes for a

response to occur. Movement time (MT) deals with the time between the beginning movements

from a stimulus and its conclusion. Together, reaction time and movement time formulate what is

known as response time (RT). Response time can be measured from the moment when a

stimulus is presented to when a response is completed (Coker, 2013, p. 30).

In the following lab, data and results were collected on reaction and response times from

two tests. The first test, known as the human benchmark test, measured stimulus and sensory

modality based on two different condition. The second test, known as card sorting, measured

response complexity using three different conditions.


Table 1

Human Benchmark Reaction Time Test

Condition 1 (Facing the Screen) Condition 2 (Auditory Response)

Mean 188 ms 240 ms

Graph 1

Human Benchmark Test




Time (ms) 300



1 2

Class Averages for Condition 1 and 2

Human Benchmark

Reaction Time Test Group Data Averages

Cards Condition 1 Condition 2 Condition 3
Trial 1 4.51 sec 9.83 sec 16.00 sec

Trial 2 4.37 sec 10.36 sec 18.27 sec

Trial 3 3.38 sec 10.13 sec 17.34 sec

Mean 4.09 sec 10.11 sec 17.20 sec

Table 2

Card Sorting

Graph 2

Card Sorting Group Data Averages

Card Sorting

Time (seconds) 10
1 2 3

Class Averages for Condition 1,2, and 3

Discussion Questions

1. By definition, motor learning is the study of the processes involved in acquiring and

refining motor skills and of variables that promote or inhibit that acquisition. On the other
hand, motor control can be defined as the study of neural, physical, and behavioral

aspects that underlie human movement. Both motor learning and motor control can be

seen as a related field. First, it is very important to understand both motor learning and

motor control in order to comprehend just how one acquires motor skills. When looking

at the two area of studies, however, the researchers of the two areas will ask different

questions. With motor learning, researchers are generally looking at how practice should

be organized, as well as what type and how much feedback facilitates skill acquisition.

On the other hand, a motor control researcher will focus on questions such as how do the

senses contribute to movement production and accuracy, what factors influence postural

ability, and how do the muscle groups work together to produce movement.
2. In order to be classified as a motor skill, there are four criteria that a task must meet. The

first criteria is that the task must be performed to achieve a goal-oriented objective.

Second, the task must require body and limb movements. Then, the task must be

classified as voluntary. Finally, in order to be classified as a motor skill, a task must be

developed as a result of practice that must either be learned or relearned.

3. When looking at an individuals skills, one can assume that the skills were a product of

genetics and practice. However, this is different from abilities due to the fact that abilities

are genetically driven. These genetic traits that help form an individuals ability can be

seen as prerequisites for performance.

4. The learner, task, and environment triangle is very important as all connect and interact

with each other. In fact, the relevance of the interaction between the individual, task, and

environment is the fact that movement emerges spontaneously from the interaction.

Within the task, mobility, stability, and manipulation are just a few characteristics. For the

individual, factors include cognition, perception, and the stage of motor learning that one
is at. Finally, the environment in relation to human movement can deal with if there is a

time limitation and how the context of the task will be performed.

Online Abilities Lab 1:

1. Based on the comparison of mean times and personal rankings during the speed stacking

lab, there seems to be a relationship between abilities and skill performance. As

discussed, skills are a product of genetics and practice, whereas abilities are genetically

driven. For the activity of speed stacking, there are many motor abilities involved such as

control precision, speed of limb movements, reaction time, and wrist-finger speed. When

observing these motor abilities, it would be of great help if one had the ability to speed

stack. Then, after being able to speed stack first hand and practice a few times before

recording trials, it also helped and enhanced in decreasing the times and personal

2. Factors that may have influenced the results could have included how much practice and

familiarity one has with the motor abilities involved with speed stacking, or even how

focused and determined an individual was in trying to obtain the best result possible in

the activity.

Human Benchmark Test:

1. When performing the second condition of the human benchmark test using auditory

response, we had to rely on our partner to help us react to the stimulus. Therefore, the

stage of information processing that was altered would be the input as it was harder to

identify exactly when the stimulus was portrayed on the screen. Due to this, altering the

process had greatly influence the reaction and response times.

2. Out of the many specific factors that can impact reaction time, the greatest factor that was

prevalent in condition two of the Human Benchmark Test was anticipation. There was a

great build-up of anticipation just waiting for your partner to indicate that it was time to

click the mouse. There was also an anticipation to try and get the best time, leaving me

anxious and on my toes to try and click the mouse as fast as possible when hearing go.

Card Shuffle Test:

1. When performing the second and third conditions in the card shuffle test, the decision

making process was greatly altered. It was very difficult to try and look as quick as

possible to identify the colors and suits of the cards and then decide where the cards are

supposed to go when sorting them as quick as possible, again making it harder and

influencing the reaction and response times greatly.

2. In the second and third conditions of the card shuffle test, uncertainty and anticipation

played a large role in influencing reaction time and performance. With uncertainty, there

were many possibilities that the cards could be when looking at suit and color, which also

greatly influenced anticipation as it was hard trying to take the time necessary to properly

sort the cards and go at as fast of a pace as possible.


Coker, C. (2013). Motor learning & control for practitioners: Third edition. Scottsdale, Arizona:

Holcomb Hathaway, Publishers, Inc.