Reactions are an important to everyday activities. In the simplest means they are a reflexive behavior that we use to protect ourselves. Using one of our senses to initiate a response to a stimulus without having to think about what response is necessary. Thus, they allow for many different automatic behaviors that happen without us having to even think. But what makes reactions different from reflexes?
While both are not controllable, reactions are things that can be changed by learning. If we think about it, when you get our reflexes tested every time we go to the doctor for a physical exam. These are done when the doctor hits out knees or elbows with a reflex hammer. But we cannot learn how to control the response to test. The reflex just happens. This is different from the concept of reactions.
A reaction is a reflex however, unlike the reflex that is tested by the doctor, reactions are specific action made in response to a specific stimulus.
If we think about this, a lot of us play sports, do athletic things, or play video games where reactions are very important. They are the movements that we make without thinking about making them, usually very quickly. Most of reactions and reflexes occur in very short amounts of time, less then a second. And when measuring the time for reactions and reflexes we use the typical measure of millisecond (msec) as opposed to using the whole second. As the numbers will always be a thousandths of the whole second and whole numbers are much easier to deal with then decimals or fractions.
Reactions can be so important as to determine the difference between winning and losing the game. Most reactions become quicker the more often we do the activity, and become what is called an anticipated response. And a number of different activities can improve our reaction skills, depending on the signal used to initiate the reaction. This includes noises (like a started gun at a race), objects flying at you (like catching a ball before you get hit by it), or falling to the floor (like catching the plate before it hits the floor and your mom or dad gets upset).
In this lab we will be testing reactions and determining the impact that having experience with activities that require anticipating and reacting have on someone's reaction times.