As adults grow older, does reaction time increase?
Yes and no. Reaction time is the interval that elapses between the onset of a stimulus and the completion of a motor response, such as hitting the brake pedal of a car when the traffic light turns yellow or red. When processing ordinary stimuli, adults do show large increases in response time with increasing age. However, mental operations that are well practiced ones (e.g., typing) are relatively resistant to age changes. In other words, experience with a specific task apparently compensates for the more general decline with age.
Linda Breytspraak, Center on Aging Studies, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Last update: Tuesday, March 14, 2006