Reaction time and age of subject.
Children learn quickly, don't they? Adults are slow, plodding creatures in the classroom and it is the quickwitted child who beats them every time. So, a child is quicker than an adult in every way...right? Wrong.
Though a child is smaller and therefore there is less distance for nerve signals to travel around their bodies, the reaction time of a child is SLOWER than an adult's. In fact, there is an inverse linear relationship between age and reaction time. In other words, the older you are, the faster you are (to a limit). Indeed, one source I noted declared that reaction time in the first grade may be TWICE as long as reaction time in the sixth grade. So these age differences are marked indeed.
I think it is important for parents to know this. Don't expect a child to react with the swiftness of an adult. Not only will they not - but they can't.
In experiments on subjects of various ages, using two different stimuli - one a light which goes on and off (visual stimulus), the other a buzzer which sounds (audible stimulus), the mean reaction times were determined.
There are not only differences for age, but differences for sex, too.
I shall list the results for male subjects first.
Age: 20. Stimulus seen: 240 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 230 milliseconds.
Age: 30. Stimulus seen: 220 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 190 milliseconds.
Age: 40. Stimulus seen: 260 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 240 milliseconds.
Age: 50. Stimulus seen: 270 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 250 milliseconds.
Age: 60. Stimulus seen: 380 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 370 milliseconds.
Reaction time results for female subjects:
Age: 20. Stimulus seen: 320 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 310 milliseconds.
Age: 30. Stimulus seen: 260 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 200 milliseconds.
Age: 40. Stimulus seen: 340 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 300 milliseconds.
Age: 50. Stimulus seen: 360 milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 300 milliseconds.
Age: 60. Stimulus seen: 44o milliseconds. Stimulus heard: 420 milliseconds.
The big surprise in these figures is that 30 year olds are faster than 20 year olds, for both male and female subjects.
The other notable feature is that male subjects have faster reaction time than females at all ages.
I was somewhat shocked to note the very sudden slowing of reactions at the age of 60. They are markedly slower and less responsive than only ten years younger. It seems that we really do "slow down" as we get older. I just hadn't realized how marked the decline was.
An awareness of these charts can help us understand the needs of both the young and old. It also instils a new respect for 30 year olds. They are actually faster than teenagers! (I don't think too many teenagers will believe it though.)
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and six months, and Tiarnan, twenty-three months, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)