Sex Differences in Reaction Time Mean and Intraindividual Variability Across the Life Span

Dominika Dykiert, Geoff Der, John M. Starr, Ian J. Deary*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1262-1276
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • reaction time
  • intraindividual variability
  • sex differences
  • aging
  • AGE


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