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Memory drum theory: alternative tests and explanations for the complexity effects on simple reaction time


, : Memory drum theory: alternative tests and explanations for the complexity effects on simple reaction time. Journal of Motor Behavior 14(3): 228-246

Two experiments investigated the memory drum theory's prediction (Henry & Rogers, 1960) that simple reaction time (SRT) increased with the complexity of the response to be initiated. Experiment 1 (N = 9) matched the Experiment 1, Group 1, SRT condition described by Henry and Rogers. Results of Experiment 1 replicated those of Henry and Rogers and indicated that the memory drum theory's prediction of increased SRT as a function of increased complexity of response was tenable. Experiment 2 (N = 11) tested the effects of anatomical unit, extent and target size on SRT, premotor time, and motor time. The results supported the contention that alternative explanations for SRT were possible. With complexity constant, increases in anatomical unit lead to increases in SRT, but only in the motor time component which indicated electromechanical rather than neuromotor program delays. It is proposed that the increased motor time could be explained by peripheral events such as the duration maximum torque must be applied by the agonist muscle(s) to generate the angular acceleration required to initiate rapid movement. SRT, premotor time, and motor time increased when target size was reduced from 6.35 cm to 79 cm. The increased premotor time could be a function of the determining of new equilibrium points for the elbow joint during response initiation. No effects on SRT were observed for extent.

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PMID: 15153412


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