Lab Report on Reaction Time

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A. Introduction

Title: The effect of reading Shakespeare on reaction time

Research Question: Does reading a passage of Shakespeare decrease a person’s reaction time while completing a puzzle? One day in class, I was reading an interesting article about how people who read and are exposed to Shakespeare and Wordsworth and other renowned writers have better brain activity, attention spans, and can have more moments of beneficial self-reflection.

In the article, scientists and psychologists at Liverpool University monitored the brain activity of subjects as they read poetry or prose by Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and T.S Eliot. They also tested the subjects after they had translated the old time texts into a more modern and straightforward language. The tests showed that the more challenging prose ignited ore electrical activity in the brain as compared to the normal, modernized version. The research also showed that reading poetry increased activity in an area of the right hemisphere, or “creative” side, of the brain known to house the autobiographical memory. This helps the subject reflect on themselves in lieu of what they have read, and betters their ability to comprehend decisions they have made. With this, the scientists decided that reading challenging poetry and prose is more helpful mentally than self-help books.

I became curious about the article, and did some research on it. The college is making plans to join with University College London to study the effect of reading on dementia sufferers, which made me think about the other uses that challenging reading could provide benefits for. I then decided to use the idea for my Biology Internal Assessment experiment. The aim of this experiment was to test whether reading Shakespeare would increase brain activity enough to decrease a subject’s reaction time while completing a puzzle.

II. Hypothesis: If a subject reads a passage of Shakespeare, then the time taken to complete a puzzle will decrease.

III. Variables:

Independent Variable: Reading Shakespeare
Dependent Variable: The time taken to do the puzzles
Controlled Variables: The puzzles used
The passage of Shakespeare read
The age of the subjects

IV. Control of Variables
Puzzles: I went to the store and bought 5 puzzles of same measurements, and all one hundred pieces each. Passage: The same passage of Shakespeare was given to each subject prior to starting their second puzzle. Age: I only asked subjects who were between the ages of 16 and 18 years to participate, for the sake of keeping brain development at a similar place while still getting some diversity.

V. Materials:
5 one hundred piece puzzles
Pen and paper to record times
A stopwatch
Act three, scene two, lines 50-80 from the play Hamlet
[Nay, do not think I flatter;
For what advancement may I hope from thee
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd? No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commeddled,
That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.—Something too much of this.—
There is a play tonight before the king;
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father's death:
I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment...
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