The Effects of Music on Reaction Time in Human Beings

Topics: Reaction time, Mental chronometry, Cognition Pages: 5 (1541 words) Published: January 22, 2013
Breland Crudup

December 9, 2012

The Effects of Music on Reaction Time in Human Beings

The Effects of Music on Reaction Time in Human Beings
When performing many feats of physical skill, calculating how fast a person can perform the action has become a custom that has gained prominence in recent years. Observing how long it takes a person to perform an action, now known as observing the reaction time, has even gained enough importance to the point that it has even used in some scientific investigations. The purpose of this scientific investigation, for instance, is to test whether or not an outside force, such as music, will affect the reaction time of any given test subject. Whether the change will be a positive one, such as helping the test subject(s) complete the task faster, thereby improving the reaction time, or a negative one, which will distract in the test subject(s) in some form or fashion, reducing the reaction time, will be documented. The hypothesis generated for the experiment is that the music will not only affect the reaction times of the test subjects, but it will also improve the test subjects’ individual reaction times by energizing them through a type of placebo effect, as well as giving the test subjects more motivation to complete the task in a more time efficient manner.

Terms that are relevant to this scientific investigation are reaction time, music, placebo, mental chronometry, and stimulus. The reaction time can be defined as the amount of time taken to respond to some type of external stimuli. Reaction time can be defined into one of three categories: simple reaction time, recognition reaction time (also known as discrimination reaction time), and choice reaction time. ‘Simple reaction time’ is when only one stimulus and one response are present. ‘Recognition reaction time’ is when, during an experiment, there are certain symbols present that are meant to be responded to and other symbols that are meant to be ignored, in short, allowing for only one correct stimulus and response. ‘Choice reaction time’ is an experiment that contains multiple stimuli and multiple responses, in which the reaction must correspond to the correct stimulus. (Reaction Times) Mental chronometry, a form of reaction times, is the use of response or reaction time in “perceptual-motor tasks to infer the content, duration, and temporal sequencing of cognitive operations” (Mental Chronometry). A stimulus is something that incites or induces a specific action or reaction or quickens the response of an organism (Stimulus). Music can be defined as “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color” (Music). A placebo, also known as the placebo effect, is the measured, observed, or the felt improvement of the health of a person and that cannot be attributed to effect of some form of medicine or some type of invasive treatment that has been administered (Carroll). “A placebo (Latin for "I shall please") is a pharmacologically inert substance (such as saline solution or a starch tablet) that seems to produce an effect similar to what would be expected of a pharmacologically active substance (such as an antibiotic)” (Carroll).

Mental chronometry has become an integral part of experimental and cognitive psychology (Mental Chronometry). As cognitive psychology and human processing in general began to evolve into its modern day counterpart from the middle of the nineteenth century, experimental psychologists have become to focus upon the dynamics of cognition and action (David E. Meyer). Mental chronometry was first developed in the early reaction time experiments of Franciscus Donders (1869). In his experiments, Donders separated for analyzing cognitive activity into three separate stages: the simple reaction time stage, recognition or discrimination reaction time stage, and the choice reaction time stage. He then predicted...
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