An Examination of Skill pt.13
Friday, June 11, 2010 at 6:39PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Skill

Think fast. Hit it now! Typically when we think of reflex skills, we imagine having a quick response to a stimulus. In an instant a situation goes from one state to another. How quickly one responds to the changed situation determines how fast his/her reflexes are. Like the previously explained facets of skill, there's a lot more to reflex than automatic, knee jerk, fast responses. provides the following definition: 

re·flex  [adj., n. ree-fleks; v. ri-fleks] 



a. Also called reflex act movement caused by a reflex response.
b. Also called reflex action. the entire physiological process activating such movement.
7. any automatic, unthinking, often habitual behavior response.
8. the reflection or image of an object, as exhibited by a mirroror the like.


An important quality to note from these definitions is that reflex, like a mirror absorbing and reflecting light, inherently deals with how one quickly takes in information through the senses. In the simplest case, this generally involves hearing, seeing, or feeling a stimulus and doing some kind of action in response. However, by adding more stimulus and more options as possible responses, it's easy to see how complex reflex can become. 
If two people witness the same event, it's not uncommon for them to describe two somewhat incongruous accounts when asked to explain what happened. Even if we assume that light hits our eyes in the same way, how that information hits the brain is what really matters. In some ways, thinking of reflex in this manner brings reflex skills closer to knowledge skills, specifically how quickly the mind process information. The distinguishing difference here is that reflex largely deals with how much one comprehends in a very small moment of time and how quickly/accurately one responds. 
Before you even get a chance to exercise your knowledge skills, your reflex skills start and finish. Because smell and taste aren't typically used as much as sight, hearing, and touch (especially with video games) I'll focus on the latter three senses. Naturally, how much information you can take in through your senses is limited. For example, you can only see within your peripheral vision. And when we hard focus our eyes on a target we tend to develop a sort of tunnel vision ignoring elements on the edge of our periphery. 
With these concepts in mind, the following are the facets of reflex skill. Much of my understanding of reflex comes from Robert J. Kosinski's work found here.
  • Simple. A measure of one's basic reflex ability. The test typically gives a visual (or audio) stimulus in a known location to which the user must respond to quickly with a single input. 
  • Recognition. Such tests feature a 'memory' and 'distractor' set of stimuli. There's still only one response the user is responsible for, but now he/she must distinguish if the presented stimulus is the right or wrong one to react to. 
  • Choice. This test features multiple stimuli with multiple matching responses. 
  • Visual/Auditory/Tactile. According to scientific research, our auditory reaction times are the fastest followed by touch and then visual. The three above facets of reflex skills should be the average of these three types. Because visual reflex is the most complex of the three, we can break down visual reflex skills into even more facets. Inspired by Flash Focus we have...
    • Peripheral Vision. The ability to spot objects in the area outside central vision.
    • Dynamic Visual Acuity. The ability to clearly track moving objects.
    • Momentary Vision. The ability to instantly identify objects that come into your vision.
    • Eye Movement. The ability to rapidly switch focus between targets. 


In the next part, I'll discuss how I use my reflex skills in everyday life in addition to high level Brawl teams matches. 

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