Count the seconds of reaction time when a traffic light turns from red to green. Did the circuit include the yellow before “go? Are you certain?

An adult can experiment with this elementary exercise to partially understand Tarleton State University's associate professor Dr. Thomas Dougherty's research of “Early brain development: Relations between speed of information processing and intelligence in children age 4 to 6.

Dr. Dougherty's prior research proved that early brain development from ages two to three years of age is extremely slower than the four to seven year olds. Motor response, or brain changes, are more consistent, more stabilized for the latter.

Dougherty said there has been an exhaustive search for children for research. Most responses have been for the seven year olds. Very few to none have been for the four to six age group. He said this age is a vital time for children.

The program used in this research measures reaction time. Children push buttons for level choices. It is almost a hide and seek effort, because an immediate reaction is required when the child focuses on the graphic that appears and must touch it to cause it to disappear. The reaction time becomes the measurement for comparison to others the same age.

“It's see and do, said Dougherty.

Multi-tasking presents more information for a higher level of intelligence. More information equals more choices.

The psychologist professor said this will ultimately become a sensitive tool for ADHD, dyslexia, bipolar, and other brain dysfunction areas.

The Raven Progression Matrices IQ tests, prepared in 1947, are used in over 100 countries. Because of their cultural relevance, they can be used anywhere for ages four to six. The missing pieces of the colored puzzles must be matched for measurement to be recorded.

Dougherty said there is no other research in this area of information processing and intelligence for children in this age group. He began searching for information for the project in June 2007.

The software program was designed by Jason Davis, a programmer for the Glen Rose power plant.

“I described the data I wanted to interpret, and within a very short time, it was on our computers, Dougherty said.

The IQ study has been submitted to the 5th Annual Texas A & M University System Pathway to the Doctorate, a symposium with an expected 300-400 students to attend. Final results will be announced in May at the Association for Psychological Science international society meeting in Chicago.

Two senior students, Anthony Mason and Chadwick Fuchs, assist in this research project by gathering and interpreting data and public relations about the project.

Dougherty is already planning his next research to begin testing babies at three and a half months through 4 years old. The infant will focus on a colored object. A safe filtered infrared beam will be shined in the eye for reflection off the cornea to see where the baby is focusing. Milliseconds of movement can be measured.

Dougherty encourages students' writing research projects and becoming published as he has.

“Due to studying my research, others are accomplishing what I have written, using the techniques I've discovered, he said. “Once published in a journal, it is there forever.

To participate in this project, contact Dr. Dougherty at 254-968-9814.

SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at or (254)965-3124, ext 229.