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Friday, June 03, 2005

Recognition Reaction Time

Recieved an interesting abstract of an article from unca related to baseball the other day titled "Intensive baseball practice improves the Go/Nogo reaction time, but not the simple reaction time" published in the journal Cognitive Brain Research and written by Kida N. Oda and S. Matsumura M.

"Baseball hitters are required to make decisions whether to swing or not as quickly as possible. Therefore, we can assume that skilled baseball players have a quicker response. To verify this hypothesis, we assessed the effect of baseball experience or skill levels on simple reaction times and Go/Nogo reaction times in 82 university students (22 baseball players, 22 tennis players, and 38 nonathletes) and 17 professional baseball players. Also, to clarify whether this ability was innate or acquired, we examined the effects of long-term practice for baseball hitting in 94 senior high school students (26 baseball players and 68 non-baseball players).

There were no differences in simple reaction time either for sports experience or for skill levels. On the contrary, the Go/Nogo reaction time for baseball players was significantly shorter than that of the tennis players and nonathletes. The Go/Nogo reaction time of higher-skill baseball players was significantly shorter than that of lower-skill players, while that of the professional baseball players was the shortest. The professional players showed the highest (almost linear) correlation between the Go/Nogo reaction time and simple reaction time. A longitudinal study showed that 2 years of hitting practice improved the Go/Nogo reaction time, while the simple reaction time remained constant. A cross-sectional study of high school non-baseball players showed no differences either in the simple or Go/Nogo reaction times in relation to school year. In conclusion, intensive practice, including Go or Nogo decision making, improved the Go/Nogo reaction time, but not the simple reaction time."

So from this study it appears that simple reaction time - the ability to respond to a stimulus which includes the mental processing time and movement time - is innate and cannot be improved with practice. However, identifying pitches and making the decision as to whether or not to swing based on location, speed, and spin, is categorized differently as "recognition reaction time" here called the Go/Nogo reaction time. It appears that this ability can be improved with practice although I'd assume that baseball players in general are self-selected for this ability. This is similar to the conclusion that dynamic visual acuity (the ability to perceive information in moving objects - is unrelated to static visual acuity. Together they provide two clues as to the physical attributes required of professional hitters.

In wondering how the study might have been conducted I ran into this short description.

"In Type C, or 'recognition,' reaction time, there are multiple possible signals but only one response. In this case, the responder makes the response when one stimulus occurs but withholds response when the other(s) appears. The standard lab version of this paradigm has a subject with his/her fingers on 1 telegraph key and waits for one of x different lights to flash. When the signal light occurs, s/he releases the telegraph. If one of the nonsignal lights occurs, then the subject should make no response. This is sometimes called the 'go, no-go' paradigm. Reaction times are invariably longer than for simple reaction time."

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