A Novel Clinical Test of Recognition Reaction Time in Healthy Adults

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Abstract

We evaluated a clinical “go/no-go” reaction time test (recognition RTclin) that is portable and does not require a computer, and used it to quantify the effect of age on recognition RTclin test scores. Fifty-two healthy adults 19–83 years old completed simple and recognition RTclin testing. Simple RTclin was measured as the elapsed time from initial release of a suspended vertical shaft by the examiner until its arrest by participant pinch grip. Recognition RTclin was similar except that a light on the apparatus randomly illuminated in 50% of the trials to signal the participant to arrest the device. To help interpret the RTclin results, we partitioned them into premovement time (PMT) and movement time (MT) using an optoelectronic camera system that is not ordinarily part of the RTclin test. Recognition RTclin scores were significantly slower than simple RTclin scores, with 71% of the prolongation attributable to PMT. While simple RTclin test scores correlated with age, recognition RTclin scores did not. A strong negative association between recognition RTclin accuracy and age was found. Recognition RTclin is feasible to measure in healthy adults and appears to represent a portable, computer-independent measure of cognitive processing speed and inhibitory capacity. Potential applications include assessment of brain injury, dementing illness, medication side effects, fall risk, and safe driving.

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