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Does Gender Affect Reflexes?

By Allison Edrington

Definition of Reflexes

Reflexes can either pertain to an involuntary response a person has in reaction to a stimulus, or it can be used to describe how fast a person physically reacts to a stimulus. When measuring a person's reflexes to a stimulus, this can also be referred to as the subject's reaction time -- and a number of factors can influence the outcome, including gender, age, and the type of stimulus.

Types of Reaction Tests

There are several types of tests that will measure reaction time. When testing only one response and one stimulus, the test is called a simple reaction time experiment. A recognition reaction time test also involves one response and one stimulus, but this one includes symbols that the subject should ignore, along with symbols she should respond to. In a choice reaction time test, a subject must correspond his reaction to the right stimulus, measuring multiple stimuli and responses.

Reflexes in Men and Women

According to a Clemson University article, men appear to have faster reflexes to both visual and audio stimuli than women. However, a 2006 study found the gaps between men and women's reaction times to visual stimuli appear to have reduced over time, possibly because more women drive and participate in sports than when prior studies were conducted decades before. Another study found that the muscle contraction rates were the same in both genders, but the amount of time between when the stimulus was presented and when the muscle began to contract was less for men.

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Accuracy and Other Factors

Although men appear to have faster reaction times, a 2004 study found that when aiming at a target, men were faster but women were more accurate. When the element of dehydration was added to the mix in another study, women were found to have longer reaction times while men had even shorter reaction times. However, age-related reflex deterioration appears to happen at the same rate for both genders.

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