Lightning Fast Reflexes: A Study (page 2)

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Author: Janice VanCleave

Design Your Own Experiment

    1. Use a test group to collect more data on reaction time. Draw a 1-foot (30-cm) square in the center of a piece of cardboard. Divide the square into sixteen even parts. Randomly write the numbers 1 through 16 in the squares. The objective is for the person being tested to touch the numbers in numerical order. As each number is touched, have the person call that number aloud. Record the time for all 16 squares to be touched.

      Effect of Stimuli on Reaction Times

    2. Determine whether practice improves reaction time by having each person in the test group repeat the activity ten times.
    3. Test the effect of distractions on reaction time by asking each person questions during the activity.
    4. Average the results of each activity and record the averages on a bar graph.
  2. How does fatigue affect reaction time? Is there any variation in reaction time after physical fatigue or mental fatigue? Design an experiment that tests these factors.

Get the Facts

  1. How do factors such as diet, alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs affect the ability of a person to react to a stimulus? Use the library and/or a medical physician or psychiatrist as sources of information for a report that explains the effects of these factors on reaction time. A nerve impulse is an electrical impulse that flows at a rate of about 133 yards (122 m) per second. Do drugs affect the speed of nerve impulses?
  2. How does practice improve the reaction time for a specific activity? Discover whether any changes are made in the brain by practicing an activity.
  3. How are muscle movements controlled? Find out more about muscle control. Describe the path of the impulses from the time the eye receives the message that the yardstick (meterstick) is released to the moment the muscles in the hands contract around the stick. You could draw a diagram to represent this path.
  4. Muscles contract and relax due to nerve impulses. What is the direct cause of the contraction? List and describe the effect of chemicals that are naturally found in the body and that are involved in this muscle movement.
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