Moving beyond response times with accessible measures of manual dynamics

Scientific reports(2022)

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Button-press measures of response time (RT) and accuracy have long served a central role in psychological research. However, RT and accuracy provide limited insight into how cognitive processes unfold over time. To address this limitation, researchers have used hand-tracking techniques to investigate how cognitive processes unfold over the course of a response, are modulated by recent experience, and function across the lifespan. Despite the efficacy of these techniques for investigating a wide range of psychological phenomena, widespread adoption of hand-tracking techniques within the field is hindered by a range of factors, including equipment costs and the use of specialized software. Here, we demonstrate that the behavioral dynamics previously observed with specialized motion-tracking equipment in an Eriksen flanker task can be captured with an affordable, portable, and easy-to-assemble response box. Six-to-eight-year-olds and adults ( N = 90) completed a computerized version of the flanker task by pressing and holding a central button until a stimulus array appeared. Participants then responded by releasing the central button and reaching to press one of two response buttons. This method allowed RT to be separated into initiation time (when the central button was released) and movement time (time elapsed between initiation and completion of the response). Consistent with previous research using motion-tracking techniques, initiation times and movement times revealed distinct patterns of effects across trials and between age groups, indicating that the method used in the current study presents a simple solution for researchers from across the psychological and brain sciences looking to move beyond RTs.
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Key words
response times,dynamics,accessible measures,manual
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