1. WHAT If you are a psychologist, neuroscientist or vision researcher who uses a computer to run experiments, and report timing accuracy in units of a millisecond, then it's likely your timings are wrong! This can lead to replication failure, spurious results and questionable conclusions. Timing error affects your work even when you use an experiment generator like E-Prime, SuperLab, Inquisit, Presentation, Paradigm or PsychoPy…
Are you always carrying out the experiments you assume you are?
Are you aware of millisecond timing error in your own experiments?
Are you confident you can replicate experiments using different hardware and software in another lab?
The Black Box ToolKit lets you quickly and easily check your own millisecond timing accuracy in terms of stimulus presentation accuracy; stimulus synchronization accuracy; and response time accuracy. Our new millisecond accurate USB response pad can also help you improve your response timing in any experiment!
Timing error means that your study is not working as you intended and that your results might be spurious. Are you putting your reputation at risk?
The Black Box ToolKit guarantees your ability to replicate.
Modern computer hardware may be faster but millisecond timing accuracy gets harder to achieve year-on-year. A common misconception is that "millisecond precision" equals "millisecond accuracy". Precision simply means that timings are reported in units of a millisecond, not that they are accurate!
For example, all TFT monitors and projectors suffer from input lag. If you present an image it will take longer to appear on screen than you might think. On some models this can be upwards of 100 milliseconds. Whatever experiment generator you use, it only knows when it requested a stimulus image be shown and not the time when it physically appeared.
3. HOW To improve replication and enhance credibility researchers should self-validate, or self-certify, their own studies in terms of millisecond presentation, synchronization and response timing accuracy.
Currently self-validation of millisecond timing accuracy can only be done quickly and easily with a Black Box ToolKit. This acts as a programmable virtual human that can detect and respond to stimulus events with sub-millisecond accuracy. It enables you, the researcher, to check the accuracy of your own paradigm whilst running in-situ on your own equipment.
Set-up – Hook up external stimulus sensors (opto-detectors, mics, TTL) and a response device (response pad, robotic key actuator, sounder, TTL)
Test – Use a wizard to select a stimulus pattern to automatically respond to/event mark. Then choose the exact response time, response device and duration
Analyze – Check your stimulus, response and synchronization timings across up to 36 channels. Compare what your experiment recorded with what the BBTK saw
NEW millisecond accurate USB response pad Make millisecond accurate response timing in your Psychology experiments one less thing to worry about! Learn more about the BBTK USB Response Pad.
Sleek carbon fibre effect enclosure around the size of a paperback book
Choice of 1 to 8 buttons
Works out of the box with PCs/Macs/Linux
Compatible with all Psychology experiment generators, e.g. E-Prime, PsychoPy etc.
Needs no drivers – fully plug in & play
Appears as a second keyboard
Map buttons to any keystroke you need
Scans for a press 50,000 times every second
Guarantee millisecond accurate responses*
Built-in TTL event marking for EEG, biofeedback, fMRI and time audit
Use up to 4x external buttons
4x Active Switch Closures trigger your own response device
Works with the Black Box ToolKit allowing it to take over all stimulus and response timing duties
RC4 of the Black Box ToolKit v2 firmware and PC software to be launched as a free download for existing customers Q2 2015. Adds seamless support for realtime event marking in EEG, EP, ERP, fMRI & Eye tracking with up to 16 additional TTL channels of I/O using our TTLe expansion module. More great features same ease of use. Plus new configuration utilities for our USB response devices launched: map button presses to specific keystrokes.
BRM open letter on replication failure in Psychology experiments published | Preprint.
Founded in 2003 by a team of psychologists, software experts and electronic engineers The Black Box ToolKit Ltd is a UK based company dedicated to improving the methods used by researchers in the behavioural and brain sciences.
We quickly realised that testing hardware and software in our lab did not reflect what researchers were doing with their own equipment and paradigms. In fact, it is now a well documented fact that millisecond timing varies depending on the hardware used. This makes it hard to single out one experiment generator, or platform, over another. What was needed was an inexpensive kit that enables researchers to quickly and easily check their own paradigms, in situ and without modification. We have spent over a decade developing and refining the Black Box ToolKit to enable researchers like you improve their ability to replicate and correct any timing errors prior to publication.
University of Sheffield, UKWhat should have been simple turned into a major headache. We wanted to display a prime for 11 ms and then evaluate social behaviour dependent on the type of prime. Unfortunately 33% of our participants could see the prime! Without the BBTK we wouldn't have been able to carry out our replication successfully.
Speech & Language
University of York, UKWe noticed that on some trials there appeared to be a presentation lag on the sounds we wanted to play to participants. This turned out to be due to soundcard startup latencies. With the help of a BBTK we managed to adjust onsets so that sounds were synchronised.
EEG and fMRI
University of Durham, UKIn some of our EEG work it was sometimes difficult to know the exact relationship between what we presented and what the EEG recorded. We used the BBTK to evaluate settling time, digital filter response, phase delay etc. to help tighten up our experiments.
Space Applications Services, BelgiumSpace Applications performs space system and software engineering for the European Space Agency, National Space Agencies and the space industry (unmanned and manned). They use a BBTK to ensure accurate presentation and response timings in their Virtual and Augmented Reality systems (eVRS).