Take part in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) COMET Trial

COMET – Conversation or Music and Effect on Reaction Time

The COMET trial aims to identify whether reaction time is affected by conversation or listening to music. Designed and created by NIHR research Trainee Deepak Chandra for the NIHR's show at the British Science Festival: "From bench to bedside: how clinical research is making waves in patient care."


Reaction times aren’t as quick as we expect them to be. Even when we take into account the time it takes for the message to be conducted via the neurons in your brain, there is still something slowing things down because what should be about 60 milliseconds takes closer to 200milliseconds. This is ‘decision time’, when you weigh up all the information available to you and choose how to react.

Therefore, by measuring something as simple as reaction time and applying various models to analyse the results, we can start to understand what’s going on in our brain during this decision making process.

In this trial, we want to find out whether being in certain situations affects reaction time. We will be testing whether having to play a word game with a friend or listening to the music makes you faster or slower.

Much like in a real clinical trial, we will measure some baseline reaction times. After this, you will have an equal chance of going into one of three groups:

1) conversation
2) music
3) silence again

In any research trial, we want to make sure any effect we find is due to the intervention itself and not due to chance or biases. We therefore repeat results and have control experiments. So, the reason we have silence as a second option is to control for whether any changes in reaction time are due to you improving at the task and so speeding up, or because you've become more tired and so slowing you down.

Much like in a real trial, not everyone will get the intervention (in this case, listening to music or taking part in a word game) but everyone has an equal chance of getting to be in the intervention group or control group.

This is a unique opportunity to take part in an online trial which will also be trialled live as part of the British Science Festival 2013 on Thursday 12 September at Northern Stage, Stage 2 as part of the NIHR's show: "From bench to bedside: how clinical research is making waves in patient care."

The trial takes approximately 10 minutes and you will need:

1 x 30cm ruler
Internet ready computer with speakers
A friend
Pen and paper

[NOTE: If you have any questions about the trial, please email crncc.comms@nihr.ac.uk]