BME 206 Biomedical Engineering Sophomore Laboratory
I. Introduction & Background
The experiment, entitled “Reaction Times,” prompted one to investigate the response periods of human subjects under multiple conditions. The reaction times were measured through various harmless visual and sound cues, such as an unpredictable, random, erratic visual cue, a visual cue with a declared warning, a predictable, anticipated cue, a visual cue while getting distracted, and finally, an auditory cue. Studying reactions and the subsequent timings of them is imperative, as living organisms detect and monitor changes in their surroundings on a daily basis, and appropriately take action—by countering, reacting.
How does a reaction occur? Sensory neurons detect an external stimulus, and then forward the information to the central nervous system, which processes and deals with the signals. A sequence of action potentials that generate a muscle contraction and a movement of a part (or various parts) of the body begin if a motor response is instigated. Reflexes, for instance, are of this type of stimulus-response reaction. An example of a reflex is a rapid blink after a cacophonous noise or an object crashing towards the eye. Furthermore, the knee-jerk response is called a myotatic reflex, which occurs consecutively after a light rap on the tendon under the kneecap. The stretch reflex (myotatic), a simple spinal reflex, is activated via single synapses between sensory axons and motor neurons. The electrical structure is limited to the spinal cord only, for this reflex, as portrayed in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1. Pictured is a cross-se...
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... as the cues became predictable (namely, the exercise with the predictable cue, with a clear pattern, produced the lowest means for both Subject 1; 0.02 seconds, and Subject 2; 0.06 seconds). Although it seems as though the difference in reaction time between auditory and visual cues is due to different processing times in the brain, that is not the case. It is all about speed. Light travels slower than sound, and therefore, one hears before one sees. The data is reflective of this, as the visual cue means are higher than the auditory cue means. The auditory cue mean for Subject 1 was 0.20 seconds, and for Subject 2, 0.19 seconds, which is 0.03 seconds lower than the means of the visual cues (for Subject 1: 0.23, for Subject 2: 0.22 seconds).
 “Lab #1: Reaction Times.” Standard Operating Procedure, BME 206-S15-1 Rev. A for Lab 1, Reaction Times.
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