The Effect of Varying Heart Rate on Choice Reaction Time in Young, Physically Active Males

The Effect of Varying Heart Rate on Choice Reaction Time in Young, Physically Active Males

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Many activities of daily living in modern society require sufficient time to react. These stimuli often involve choosing the best option between several possibilities. Thus in neuroscience, an experimental measure of a person’s cognitive ability is by subjecting them to a Choice Reaction Time (CRT) test. Central processing and planning of fine motor patterns occurs within the cerebellum to rapidly perform choice reaction tasks (Welford, A 1980). Previous studies have shown that the arousal level of an individual (often measured as a percentage of heart rate), directly affects their cognitive performance relating to the processing of several choices. Davranche et al. (2004) proved that moderate exercise (50% of VO2 peak) improves cognitive performance with regards to choice reaction time. However, a more recent study found that increasing a subject’s arousal only improved CRT in highly skilled fencing athletes, whilst having no effect on the sedentary population (Mouelhi Guizani, S. et al, 2006). Therefore, this experimental study is designed to determine the effects of varying heart rates upon CRT within a young, physically active male population.

The aim of this experiment is to investigate the effect heart rate has on reaction time. The information that is obtained will be of interest to athletes in particular whose ability to react may be dependant on their arousal level. It has been shown that an ideal (optimum) heart rate can be achieved in order to minimise an individual’s choice reaction time. However, there is a lack of evidence supporting this notion to the physically active, young population and it is for this reason, that it is imperative that we forego this experiment.


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- Interlink Force-Sensing Resistors-touch pads
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• ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, Lea and Febiger, for American College of Sports Medicine, 2006. Seventh Edition.
• Davranche, K. & Audiffren, M. (2004). Facilitating effects of exercise on information processing, J Sports Sci, 22, p 419-428.
• Mouelhi Guizani, S., Bouzaouach, I., Tenenbaum, G., Ben Kheder, A., Feki, Y., Bouaziz, M. (2006). Simple and choice reaction times under varying levels of physical load in high skilled fencers, J Sports Med Phys Fitness, 46, p 344-351.
• Schmidt, R. A. (1991). Motor Learning & Performance: From Principles to Practice. Mitcham, SA: Human Kinetics.
• Welford, A. T. (1980). Reaction Times. New York: Academic Press.

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