Reaction time and intelligence: Comparing associations based on two response modes

Jack Nissan, David Liewald, Ian J. Deary*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

People who score highly on intelligence tests also tend to have faster and less variable reaction times. Effect size estimates for the reaction time-intelligence association are larger in samples that are more representative of the population. However, such samples have often been tested on a reaction time device that requires reading a number and processing its association with a specific response location (Cox, Huppert, & Whichelow, 1993). Here, we use this device and another reaction time device (Dykiert et al., 2010) that is similar, except that the responses require less processing; subjects simply press a button that is adjacent to the stimulus light. We focus on the possibility that lights as stimuli require less higher-order cognitive engagement than numbers, and then test whether parameters from these two tasks are highly correlated and similarly associated with age and higher cognitive abilities. Both tasks measured simple and choice reaction times and their intra-individual variation across trials. The parameters of the two tasks were very highly correlated and parameters from both tasks were similarly associated with age, social factors, and differences in higher cognitive abilities. The respective choice reaction time parameters from either task accounted for much of the age- and higher cognitive ability-associations of the other task's parameters. These findings are important in establishing that the effect sizes of higher cognitive ability associations with processing speed measures may be found when the processing demands are minimal.(C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-630
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Early online date4 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • intelligence
  • reaction time
  • age
  • life-style survey
  • variability
  • cognition
  • health


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