Researchers wanted to assess the effect of low alcohol consumption onreation time in seniors. Their belief was that even low levels ofalcohol consumption can impair the ability to walk, thereby increasingthe likelihood of falling. They identified 13 healthy seniors who werenot heavy consumers of alcohol. The experiment took place in lateafternoon. Each subject was instructed to have a light lunch (such as asandwich) and not drink any caffeinated drinks in the 4 hours prior toarriving at the lab. The seniors were asked to walk on a treadmill onwhich an obstable would appear randomly. The reaction time was measuredby determining the time it took the senior to life his or her foot uponthe appearance of the obstacle. First, each senior walked the treadmillby consuming a drink consisting water mixed with orange juice with thescent and taste of vodka. The senior was then sked to walk on thetreadmill. The senior was then asked to drink two additional drinks (40%vodka mixed with orange juice). The goal was to have the senior reach ablood alcohol concentration of around 0.05%. The senior then walked onthe treadmill again. The average response time increased by 19milliseconds after the alcohol treatment. The researchers concluded thatresponse times are significantly delayed even for low levels of alcoholconsumption. What type of experimental design is this? What is the response variable in this experiment? Is it quantitative or qualitative? What is the treatment? What factors were controlled and set at a fixed level in this experiment? Can you think of any factors thatmay affect reaction to alcohol that were not controlled? Why do you think researchersused a drink that had the scent and taste of vodka to serve as thetreatment for a baseline measure? Source: Judith Hegeman et al. ‘Even Low Alcohol Concentrations Affect Obstacle Avoidance Reactions in Healthly Senior Individuals,’ BMS Research Notes 3:243, 2010.
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