The Modified Blink Reflex and Individual Differences in Speed of Processing

M. Smyth, Mike Anderson, Geoff Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies investigated a new method of measuring speed of processing. The method takes advantage of the fact that attributes of the blink reflex change systematically when the temporal relationship between a blink reflex eliciting stimulus and a modifying stimulus (for example, a tone that itself does not elicit a reflex blink) is manipulated. The modified blink reflex (MBR) was measured across conditions that manipulated the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between a reflex-eliciting tap to the forehead and a modifying tone. Slope values, which indexed the rate of change in the MBR across conditions, were calculated for each subject in an attempt to index the speed with which individuals processed the tone. Subjects were tested for intelligence using Raven's progressive Matrices. Inspection time (IT), a behavioral measure of speed of processing, was also measured. In the first study the expected negative correlation between Raven's and IT was obtained and slopes of MBR onset latency correlated with both Raven's and IT in the predicted opposite directions - faster processors (high Raven's, low IT) demonstrated a more rapid change in onset latency of the MBR across conditions. The results of a second study, which replicated those of Study 1 for males only, are reported and the implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-35
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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