Neuroscience International

Effects of Increased Physiological Arousal on Upper Extremity Reaction and Movement Times in Healthy Young Adults

Christopher Kovacs and Tamara Bories

DOI : 10.3844/amjnsp.2010.28.33

Neuroscience International

Volume 1, Issue 2

Pages 28-33


Problem statement: Research has suggested that examining attentional demands during functional tasks is an emergent area of study. Increased arousal may represent an attentional demand, resulting in impaired motor functioning in tasks that require fast reaction and movement times. Approach: This study examined the effects of a non-specific stressor and the resultant physiological arousal on upper extremity functional measures of motor performance. Forty-four young adult participants (X age = 20.6) were randomly assigned to either a stress/arousal group or non-stress control group. Arousal was altered through the use of the Stroop Color Word Task and mental subtraction tasks. Results: Paired-sample analyses revealed significant differences (p<.037) from pre to post test for measures of reaction time in the stress group. No significant differences were seen for measures of movement time (p<.095) in the stress group. Conclusion: These results suggest that increased levels of physiological arousal may alter reaction time, movement time and resultant motor functioning in healthy young adults. This increase in physiological arousal may be the result of nonspecific external stressors and have significant implications for movement production accuracy in multiple populations, including older adults. Further research examining this effect in older adults is ongoing.


© 2010 Christopher Kovacs and Tamara Bories. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.