I am looking for a benchmark as a reference regarding the human Kinesiology that specifies the quickest movement a human can do on basic everyday movements like computer mouse clicking. As far as I know, there is an standard called MTM (Measurement Time Methods) in the field of industrial engineering and ergonomics which specifies the required time for each basic movement to be done by human. This MTM standard time is provided on the basis of not putting the human (worker) in an overload or underload working situation. So I assume MTM cannot provide me with the shortest possible duration (time) a basic movement can be performed. I am not sure whether we have such a benchmark based on human physiology, Do you have any suggestion in this regard? I recorded response times and have a distribution of these response times for many subjects, however, I would like to estimate the minimum possible response time a human can do in my experiment

  • $\begingroup$ I'm no expert but i would look to the group of bodily relexes, actions that are automatically taken in response to a stimuli e.g. ducking when a pigeon suddenly flies near your head. As to the fastest of these i would suggest eyeball action when sitting on an underground train whilst looking at adverts or fixtures on the tunnel as the train hurtles by. These eye movements are super-human fast. $\endgroup$ Commented May 18, 2017 at 5:15

2 Answers 2


I don't know about any MTM standards or benchmarks, but motor response latencies have been assessed in many studies. Importantly, auditory response latencies are smallest, then tactile followed by visual response times. This, because the auditory system is swift, while the visual system is sluggish by comparison (source: Packman & Packman).

For example, Jain et al. (2015) report a mean visual response latency of 247 ms and an auditory response latency of 228 ms. Another study reports approximately 144 and 133 ms, respectively. The lower values are probably because the authors chose the lowest reading as their final measurement Gavkare et al, 2013). Other technical differences may also have yielded deviations. Importantly, stimulus intensity affects reaction time (e.g., louder auditory stimuli decrease reaction time) and other stimulus parameters do so as well (source: Packman & Packman). Importantly, age is positively correlated with reaction time (Ng & Chan, 2012).

A large data set where the authors stratified their subject pool in age groups as well as other parameters can be found in Ng & Chan, 2012.

- Gavkare et al,, Indian Medical Gazette, June 2013
- Jain et al., Int J Appl Basic Med Res (2015); 5(2)
- Ng & Chan, IMECS (2012)

  • $\begingroup$ Although the OP mentions 'response times' I do not believe the response times you mention in this post are the ones he was referring to: "the shortest possible duration (time) a basic movement can be performed". $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yes then the question becomes whether a neural component is included yes or no. In my answer it is and afaik pretty much all studies take that into account. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 13:00

Theoretically visual stimuli would be faster than auditory stimuli because of the given speed of light vs sound. Therefore I personally believe the time from stimuli to recognition would depend on the individual and furthermore the time from recognition to the time of response (ex. Clicking a mouse immediately upon recognition of a sound or sight, followed by [roughly] identifying said object) With all those variables, in MY OPINION there are absolute's: 1) light travels faster than sound; 2)visual contains more data than audio

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    $\begingroup$ Previous answers have citations that refute your belief. Do you have any citations/research to support your answer in the setting proposed? $\endgroup$
    – mflo-ByeSE
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Most studies of reaction time are interested in neural processing and not propagation delays. If you wanted, in a typical lab you could introduce a non-negligible propagation delay of maybe 10 ms, but with headphones the propagation delay is on the order of 100s of micro seconds and lost in the measurement noise. $\endgroup$
    – StrongBad
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 17:00

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