Behavior Research Methods

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 1096–1104 | Cite as

PsyToolkit: A software package for programming psychological experiments using Linux

  • Gijsbert StoetEmail author


PsyToolkit is a set of software tools for programming psychological experiments on Linux computers. Given that PsyToolkit is freely available under the Gnu Public License, open source, and designed such that it can easily be modified and extended for individual needs, it is suitable not only for technically oriented Linux users, but also for students, researchers on small budgets, and universities in developing countries. The software includes a high-level scripting language, a library for the programming language C, and a questionnaire presenter. The software easily integrates with other open source tools, such as the statistical software package R. PsyToolkit is designed to work with external hardware (including IoLab and Cedrus response keyboards and two common digital input/output boards) and to support millisecond timing precision. Four in-depth examples explain the basic functionality of PsyToolkit. Example 1 demonstrates a stimulus—response compatibility experiment. Example 2 demonstrates a novel mouse-controlled visual search experiment. Example 3 shows how to control light emitting diodes using PsyToolkit, and Example 4 shows how to build a light-detection sensor. The last two examples explain the electronic hardware setup such that they can even be used with other software packages.


Behavior Research Method Psychological Experiment Light Sensor Script Language Stimulus Response Compatibility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Finney, S. A. (2001). Real-time data collection in Linux: A case study. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 33, 167–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Geller, A. S., Schleifer, I. K., Sederberg, P. B., Jacobs, J., & Kahana, N. J. (2007). PyEPL: A cross-platform experiment-programming library. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 950–958.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gofen, A., & Mackeben, M. (1997). An introduction to accurate display timing for PCs under “Windows.” Spatial Vision, 10, 361–368.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. McKinney, C. J., MacCormac, E. R., & Welsh-Bohmer, K. A. (1999). Hardware and software for tachistoscopy: How to make accurate measurements on any PC utilizing the Microsoft Windows operating system. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 31, 129–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Peirce, J. W. (2007). PsychoPy—Psychophysics software in Python. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 162, 8–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Plant, R. R., Hammond, N., & Turner, G. (2004). Self-validating presentation and response timing in cognitive paradigms: How and why? Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 36, 291–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Plant, R. R., Hammond, N., & Whitehouse, T. (2002). Toward an Experimental Timing Standards Lab: Benchmarking precision in the real world. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 34, 218–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Plant, R. R., Hammond, N., & Whitehouse, T. (2003). How choice of mouse may effect response timing in psychological studies. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers, 35, 276–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Prinz, W., & Hommel, B. (2002). Common mechanisms in perception and action: Attention and performance XIX. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. R Development Core Team (2009). R: A language and environment for statistical computing [Computer software]. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Available from Scholar
  11. Repp, B. (2005). Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of the tapping literature. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 969–992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Stahl, C. (2006). Software for generating psychological experiments. Experimental Psychology, 53, 218–232.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Stevens, M., Lammertyn, J., Verbruggen, F., & Vandierendonck, A. (2006). Tscope: A C library for programming cognitive experiments on the MS Windows platform. Behavior Research Methods, 38, 280–286.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Stewart, N. (2006). Millisecond accuracy video display using OpenGl under Linux. Behavior Research Methods, 38, 142–145.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Straw, A. D. (2008). Vision Egg: An open-source library for realtime visual stimulus generation. Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, 2(4).Google Scholar
  16. Wolfe, J. M. (2003). Moving towards solutions to some enduring controversies in visual search. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 70–76.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Psychological SciencesUniversity of LeedsLeedsEngland

Personalised recommendations