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August 1967

Visual Simple Reaction Time in Cyanotic Heart Disease

Am J Dis Child. 1967;114(2):139-143. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1967.02090230069005

CHILDREN with acquired or congenital cerebral defects accompanied by obvious motor impairment, such as cerebral palsy, have slower performance speed by virtue of their neurologic damage. Prolonged, severe hypoxia of the central nervous system has been shown to lead to profound physiologic and psychologic changes in the organism.1-3 The psychologic effects of mild to moderate degrees of chronic hypoxia are more subtle and difficult to measure and, therefore, present a challenge in diagnosis. One useful index in judging the level of psychomotor performance of subjects is reaction time (RT) measurement.4-7

Previous studies on adults at high altitudes and on subjects exposed to oxygen deprivation have shown a correlation between the degree of hypoxia and RT scores.7,8 Members of the High Altitude Expedition to Chile in 1935 had a significantly longer and more variable simple RT when tested at an altitude of 20,140 feet than at sea level.