The effects of high altitude on choice reaction time mean and intra-individual variability: Results of the Edinburgh Altitude Research Expedition of 2008

Dykiert, D., Hall, D., van Gemeren, N., Benson, R., Der, G. , Starr, J.M. and Deary, I.J. (2010) The effects of high altitude on choice reaction time mean and intra-individual variability: Results of the Edinburgh Altitude Research Expedition of 2008. Neuropsychology, 24(3), pp. 391-401. (doi:10.1037/a0018502)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0018502

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to investigate the effects of high altitude on reaction time (RT) mean and intra-individual variability. METHOD: Ten students (6 men, 4 women) took a 4-choice RT test and had their vital signs and Lake Louise (LL) score measured on 21 occasions during the Edinburgh Altitude Research Expedition of 2008 to the Western Himalayas (max. altitude 5,565 m). RESULTS: Linear mixed modeling revealed that mean RT was significantly impaired at altitudes above 4,000 m (p < .001), but relatively unaffected below that threshold. An estimated increase in RT between 4,000 and 5,000 m was 15.5 ms, 95% CI [11.1, 19.9]. LL score was related to slower RTs (B = 1.97, 95% CI [0.70, 3.23], p < .01), while number of errors was associated with faster RTs (B = -1.50, 95% CI [-2.60, -0.39], p < .01). There were persistent practice effects in mean RT (B = -2.16, 95% CI [-2.49, -1.83], p < .001. Log-transformed intra-individual variability in RT increased with higher LL scores (B = 0.01801, 95% CI [0.0049, 0.0311], p < .01) and decreased with rising temperature (B = -0.00754, 95% CI [-0.0119, -0.0032], p < .001). However, after controlling for mean RT, these effects were no longer significant. CONCLUSIONS: RTs become significantly impaired above a threshold of 4,000 m. Altitude-related changes in RT intra-individual variability were accounted for by mean RT.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Der, Mr Geoffrey
Authors: Dykiert, D., Hall, D., van Gemeren, N., Benson, R., Der, G., Starr, J.M., and Deary, I.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Neuropsychology
ISSN:0894-4105
ISSN (Online):1931-1559

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