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Reaction Time: The Ruler Drop Test (page 2)

based on 46 ratings
Author: Beth Touchette

Results

Your results will vary depending on technique and which volunteers you used, but you should expect that many of your volunteers will show a slight improvement with practice.

Why?

When we begin to acquire a new physical skill through repetition, our nervous system creates new neural pathways. Here’s an example: when we practice something like catching a ruler over and over again, all the members of that neural pathway (eye, brain, muscles) become more well-connected and efficient. This phenomenon is often referred to as muscle memory. However, no matter how good your muscle memory for this task becomes, it will always take some time for the falling ruler to travel as a message from your eyes to your brain and from your brain to your fingers!

Going Further

Reflexes in response to stimuli are our quickest reactions. One example is when a doctor hits a spot right below your kneecap and you kick before you even consciously realize you’re doing so. One cool question to explore might be whether reflexes and learned motor skills like catching a ruler can enable us to respond to stimuli more quickly in the morning or in the evening. How does the length of time spent awake affect the efficiency of our central nervous system? Why?

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