Frequency of the ‘Alpha’ Rhythm, Reaction Time and Age


THE preliminary investigation described in this communication was suggested by the observations that (a) older people respond to a stimulus more slowly (simple reaction time is longer than in young people)1–4, and (b) the dominant rhythm of the electroencephalogram, the ‘alpha’ rhythm, is slower in older people than in young5–7. These findings raised the question of whether ‘alpha’ frequency might be a factor responsible for differences in reaction time. The present experiment was designed to discover if simple reaction time is related to ‘alpha’ frequency of the electroencephalogram recorded during the time which elapses between a stimulus and a response.

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    Miles, W. R., Amer. J. Psychol., 43, 377 (1931).

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    Bellis, C. J., Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol., N.Y., 30, 801 (1933).

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    Obrist, W. D., J. Psychol., 35, 259 (1953).

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    Birren, J. E., The Process of Aging in the Nervous System, edit. by Birren, J. E., et al. (Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, 1959).

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    Mundy-Castle, A. C., Hurst, L. A., Beerstecher, D. M., and Prinsloo, T., EEG Clin. Neurophysiol., 6, 245 (1954).

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    Obrist, W. D., EEG Clin. Neurophysiol., 6, 235 (1954).

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    Harvald, B., Acta Psychiat. Neurol. Scand., 33, 193 (1958).

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SURWILLO, W. Frequency of the ‘Alpha’ Rhythm, Reaction Time and Age. Nature 191, 823–824 (1961).

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