# Information Processing Reaction Time, Decision Making and Hicks Law

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Information Processing Reaction Time, Decision Making and Hicks Law
AS Level – Week 23 Theory Module 1 Information Processing Reaction Time, Decision Making and Hicks Law

Reaction Time A key element in the decision making process for a performer is the amount of time it takes to receive, interpret and analyse stimuli to then formulate an appropriate response. The faster this can be achieved, the more time the performer is likely to have in order to complete the selected skill successfully. We often attempt to confuse our opponents by giving them false cues, such as a dummy pass. A performer with a faster reaction time can delay the start of their movement, giving them a greater opportunity to fully assess the situation and eliminating the need to guess what may happen.

Response Time = Reaction Time + Movement Time
The diagram below shows the whole sequence of responding to a stimulus in the context of a sprint. Diagram Response Time = Reaction Time + Movement Time Reaction Time - the time between the onset of a stimulus and the initiation of the response. It is the time the information processing system takes to interpret the situation, formulate a motor programme and transmit the information to the muscular system. E.g the time taken when a striker thinks they have the opportunity to score a goal and the start of the shooting action. Movement Time - the time between the start of the movement and its completion. It is the time the performer takes to physically complete the movement when the muscular system has received the message from the brain via the effector system. E.g the time it takes the striker to move their limbs to strike the ball.

Response Time - the time from the onset of the stimulus to the completion of the movement. it’s the combination of the reaction time and the movement time. E.g the overall time the striker takes to complete the shot from first seeing the ball, their position and the goal. Hot Tip -: Make sure you know the definitions of each term, their relationship and you are able to apply them to practical examples.

Reaction time is an ability and it varies between individuals
Reaction time is an ability and it varies between individuals. Many factors can affect the speed of a performers reaction time. Age - reaction times improve until the early twenties but then become slower. Gender - males generally have faster reaction times but as we become older, the difference becomes less. Fatigue - tired performers tend to have slower reaction times. Intensity of the stimulus - the more intense, the faster the time, E.g brighter and louder stimulus help increase reaction time. Probability of the stimulus occurring - if the stimulus is expected, there is a reduced element of doubt and anticipation. E.g an opponent always plays the same shot in a particular situation.

Presence of a warning signal - this may be a call or gesture. E
Presence of a warning signal - this may be a call or gesture. E.g the starter at the beginning of a race issuing commands or coloured lights to begin a grand prix. Personality - introverts tend to have slower reaction times than extroverts. Previous experience - the greater the experience the faster the recall from the long term memory. Arousal Level - optimum arousal will cause heightened concentration levels and allow the performer to only focus on key stimuli. Stimulus-response compatibility - the reaction time is faster if the required action is normally linked to the stimulus. E.g bang of a gun in athletics. Body Temperature - reaction time is slower if the body is cold.

Limbs used - the further the nerve impulse has to travel, the slower the reaction time. E.g hand movements tend to be completed faster than foot movements. Sense Used to detect stimulus - sight, sound, touch and kinaesthetic awareness all produce differing reaction times. Fastest Reaction Time Kinaesthetic Hearing Touch Vision Pain Smell Slowest Reaction Time

There are two forms of reaction time -:
Simple reaction time -involves one stimulus and one possible response. E.g the time a sprinter takes to start moving off the blocks when the gun is fired. Choice reaction time -involves the performer being presented with numerous stimuli, each with a different response. This situation occurs in all open skills, causing the performer to make decisions largely based on past experiences. E.g basketball player must decide whether to shoot pas or dribble and their situation will constantly alter requiring another decision to be made.

Hicks Law Hick’s Law suggests that reaction time will increase in a linear fashion as the amount of information to be processed increases. Diagram If a performer can develop a range of skills and employ them effectively when faced with a number of different situations, their opponent will not know what is going to happen and as a result will have to delay their decision-making until the last moment. E.g a squash player who is able to play a variety of shots from differing positions will find it easier to out wit and deceive an opponent.

The increase in reaction time can be explained using the Psychological Refractory Period (PRP).
Diagram The delay is caused by an increase in the information processing time when the initial stimulus is closely followed by a second stimulus. The reaction time is slowed because the first piece of information must be cleared before the second can be processed, as explained by the single channel hypothesis. This suggests that the brain can only deal with one piece of information at a time. When it receives several pieces in rapid succession a ‘bottleneck’ is formed.

Improving Response Time
One of the most effective measures can be the use of anticipation. Anticipation depends on past experience and involves the recognition of specific cues. Spatial anticipation - involves predicting what will happen. E.g the badminton player detects the slight difference in the shot action and is expecting the drop shot. Temporal anticipation - involves predicting when the action will happen. E.g a football defender tries to guess when the attacker will actually pass the ball. Other methods used to improve response time include -: a) relevant practice responding to specific cues or stimulus. b) mental rehearsal. c) concentration on early warning signs. d) improvement of selective attention. e) control of arousal levels. f) improvement of physical fitness. g) altering the intensity of the stimulus h) identification of specific actions/cues used by opponents