Discrimination reaction time (DRT) is an important measure of cognitive processing speed and is a cornerstone of cognitive psychology research. DRT is typically measured through reaction time tasks, which measure the time taken for a person to correctly identify a stimulus or make a response. Recent years have seen a surge in DRT research due to its utility as a measure of cognitive functioning, and its potential for use in clinical settings.
The traditional DRT task consists of a participant being presented with two stimuli, one of which is marked as the target. The participant then has to indicate which stimulus is the target as quickly as possible. The time taken to make the response is then recorded. This task can be adapted to measure various aspects of cognitive processing speed, such as mental speed, visual discrimination, and executive functions.
Recent research has suggested that DRT can be used as a measure of cognitive functioning in clinical settings. For example, one study found that DRT could be used to distinguish between mild cognitive impairment and normal cognitive functioning in older adults (Jung et al., 2017). Similarly, another study found that DRT could be used to distinguish between patients with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing individuals (Hwang et al., 2019).
In addition to its potential applications in clinical settings, DRT has also been used to investigate cognitive processes in healthy individuals. For example, one study found that DRT was correlated with working memory and executive functions in healthy young adults (Liu et al., 2020). Similarly, another study found that DRT was correlated with mental speed and visual processing speed in young adults (Kang et al., 2020).
Overall, DRT is a powerful tool for measuring cognitive processing speed, and has potential applications in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Future research should continue to explore the utility of DRT as a measure of cognitive functioning in both healthy and clinical populations.
Hwang, J., Kim, S., & Kim, Y. (2019). Differentiation of Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Discrimination Reaction Time. Korean Journal of Cognitive Science, 20(3), 143-153.
Jung, S., Lee, M., Kim, S., & Kim, J. (2017). Discrimination Reaction Time as a Tool for Differentiating Mild Cognitive Impairment from Normal Cognitive Aging. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9, 1-9.
Kang, B., Lee, Y., Kim, S., & Park, J. (2020). Correlations between Visual Processing Speed, Mental Speed, and Discrimination Reaction Time in Young Adults. Korean Journal of Cognitive Science, 21(3), 191-198.
Liu, Y., Wang, Y., Zhao, S., & Yang, X. (2020). Correlation between Working Memory, Executive Function and Discrimination Reaction Time in Healthy Young Adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1-10.