Mar 7, 2012

Sex differences in reaction time mean and intraindividual variability across the life span

Developmental Psychology
Dominika DykiertIan J Deary


Men are often found to have faster and less variable reaction times (RTs) than do women. However, it has not been established whether these differences occur in children. One suggestion is that sex differences in RT variability may be due to the effect of sex hormones on the brain and, by implication, may be expected in adults but not in children. The present study investigates sex differences in RT mean and intraindividual variability in a sample that includes both children and adults (age range = 4-75 years). Mean and intraindividual variability of simple RT (SRT) and 4-choice RT (CRT) were measured in 1,994 visitors to science festivals held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2008 and 2009 and in Cheltenham and Cambridge, England, in 2008. The commonly reported pattern of decreasing RT mean and variability in childhood and adolescence, followed by an increase in mean and variability through adulthood and into old age, was confirmed. Greater intraindividual variability for females in SRT and CRT was observed in adults but not in children. Males had significantly faster mean SRT than did females across the life span, but there were no sex differences in mean CRT.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Reaction Time
Gonadal Steroid Hormones
Regression Analysis
Choice Behavior

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