Simple reaction times and timing of serial reactions of adolescents with mental retardation, autism, and Down syndrome

Percept Mot Skills. 1995 Dec;81(3 Pt 1):739-45. doi: 10.2466/pms.1995.81.3.739.


The purpose of this study was to examine the serial information processing in adolescents with mental retardation, autism, and Down syndrome by using a serially patterned tracking task. Analyses indicated that 7 adolescents with mental retardation, 8 with autism, and 3 with Down syndrome had significantly slower and more variable simple reaction times than did 10 college students. Also, the autistic adolescents had significantly faster mean simple reaction time than those with Down syndrome. On a task of tracking serial light stimulation, mentally retarded adolescents had significantly faster reaction time than college students. The autistic subjects excessively had faster anticipatory reaction time than did the subjects in the other three groups. On the other hand, adolescents with Down syndrome had markedly slower and more variable reaction time than did adolescents with non-Down-syndrome mental retardation. As for motor organization of keystrokes on the tracking task, mentally retarded adolescents responded with six movements, in which these individuals pressed a series of keys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, as a chunk, as exhibited by college students. Adolescents with autism and Down syndrome, however, did not produce this movement-output chunking.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Down Syndrome / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time*
  • Reference Values
  • Serial Learning*