NSHD – Age 60-64 – Reaction Time Test

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The MRC National Survey of Health of Development (NSHD) assessed their cohort members (CMs) during the study’s age 60-64 sweep using the Reaction Time Test.

Details on this measure and the data collected from the CMs are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Reaction time
Measures:Simple reaction time (task 1)
Choice reaction time (task 2)
CHC:Gt (reaction and decision speed)
Administration method:Research nurse; face to face; CAPI
Procedure:Task 1: Using the CAPI, participants were instructed to press a key as quickly as possible every time the numbers '0' or '8' appeared on screen. Participants were instructed to use 1 finger only. There were delays of 1 - 3 seconds between each letter, to avoid anticipation. The test began with 8 practice trials. For the full test, a total of 20 trials were completed.
Task 2: Next, the participants were instructed that the numbers '1', '2', '3', and '4' would appear on screen, and they were to press the corresponding keys as quickly as possible; i.e. if a '1' appeared, they were to press '1'. They were instructed to use both hands. Again, there were 8 practice trials, and the full test consisted of 40 trials.
Link to questionnaire:https://skylark.ucl.ac.uk/NSHD/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=questionnaires:2008_nurse.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:Mean reaction time of correct trials
Item-level variable(s):K0ER09 - K4SD09
Total score/derived variable(s):RTMN09, RTSD09
Descriptives:Mean reaction time
N = 2,167
Range = 41 - 849
Mean = 286.11
SD = 68.48
(click image to enlarge)
Age of participants (months):Mean = 760.24, SD = 13.36, Range = 724 - 780
Other sweep and/or cohort:None
Source:Generic reaction time test. Similar reaction time tests have been widely used in psychology for well over a century, e.g. Cattell (1890).
Technical resources:Masi, S., Georgiopoulos, G., Khan, T., Johnson, W., Wong, A., Charakida, M., ... & Deanfield, J. (2018). Patterns of adiposity, vascular phenotypes and cognitive function in the 1946 British Birth Cohort. BMC Medicine, 16(1), 75.
Reference examples:Masi, S., Georgiopoulos, G., Khan, T., Johnson, W., Wong, A., Charakida, M., ... & Deanfield, J. (2018). Patterns of adiposity, vascular phenotypes and cognitive function in the 1946 British Birth Cohort. BMC Medicine, 16(1), 75.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.