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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reaction Time May Predict Longevity











Reaction Time May Predict Longevity


There are many well established risk factors for cardiovascular death, but researchers may have found one more: slower reaction time.
In the late 1980s and early ’90s, researchers measured the reaction times of 5,134 adults ages 20 to 59, having them press a button as quickly as possible after a light flashed on a computer screen. Then they followed them to see how many would still be alive after 15 years. The study is in the January issue of PLOS One.
Unsurprisingly, men, smokers, heavy drinkers and the physically inactive were more likely to die. But after controlling for these and other factors, they found that those with slower reaction times were 25 percent more likely to die of any cause, and 36 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease, than those with faster reactions. Reaction time made no difference in cancer mortality.
The reasons for the connection are unclear, but the lead author, Gareth Hagger-Johnson, a senior research associate at University College London, said it may reflect problems with the brain or nervous system.
He stressed, though, that “a single test of reaction time is not going to tell you when you’re going to die. There’s a link at a population level. We didn’t look at individual people.”
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