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. 2014 Mar;46(1):140-7.
doi: 10.3758/s13428-013-0339-9.

PC-PVT: A Platform for Psychomotor Vigilance Task Testing, Analysis, and Prediction

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Free PMC article

PC-PVT: A Platform for Psychomotor Vigilance Task Testing, Analysis, and Prediction

Maxim Y Khitrov et al. Behav Res Methods. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Using a personal computer (PC) for simple visual reaction time testing is advantageous because of the relatively low hardware cost, user familiarity, and the relative ease of software development for specific neurobehavioral testing protocols. However, general-purpose computers are not designed with the millisecond-level accuracy of operation required for such applications. Software that does not control for the various sources of delay may return reaction time values that are substantially different from the true reaction times. We have developed and characterized a freely available system for PC-based simple visual reaction time testing that is analogous to the widely used psychomotor vigilance task (PVT). In addition, we have integrated individualized prediction algorithms for near-real-time neurobehavioral performance prediction. We characterized the precision and accuracy with which the system as a whole measures reaction times on a wide range of computer hardware configurations, comparing its performance with that of the "gold standard" PVT-192 device. We showed that the system is capable of measuring reaction times with an average delay of less than 10 ms, a margin of error that is comparable to that of the gold standard. The most critical aspect of hardware selection is the type of mouse used for response detection, with gaming mice showing a significant advantage over standard ones. The software is free to download from http://bhsai.org/downloads/pc-pvt/ .

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
The main PVT Manager window displays the current study name and the list of subjects defined for the study. The session information columns provide an overview of the progress that each subject is making through the study protocol. The buttons below the Subjects list are enabled when a subject is selected and allow for the analysis and export of PVT data and for the management of subject parameters (e.g., subject identification number, left/right hand preference, etc.)
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
The Subject Details window displays session data and predictions for a single subject. The Analysis panel (top left) is used to configure dependent parameters. The Sessions panel (top right) lists each completed PVT session for the given subject, including the time stamp, configuration parameters, and computed statistics. The Overview/Prediction panel (bottom) displays a plot of the currently selected summary statistics (in the example shown, minor lapses, as defined in the Analysis panel) and outputs from the prediction algorithm (in this case, for a 12-h-ahead prediction). TTT: total trial time, in seconds
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Diagrams of the connection between the RTbox and the device being tested. (A) For the PVT-192, a light sensor was attached from the RTbox to its light-emitting-diode dot-matrix display, and a button sensor was attached from the RTbox to the response button so that both would be triggered at exactly the same time. Events from the two sensors were time-stamped by the RTbox and transmitted via a USB cable to another PC. (B) Similar connections were established in order to characterize the PC-PVT. Reaction times recorded by each device were compared with those derived from the RTbox time stamps
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Bland–Altman plots displaying differences in the recorded reaction times (RTs) between the RTbox (reference) and the device being tested. Solid lines represent the means of the differences, and dashed lines represent means ±2 standard deviations (SDs). (A) RTbox versus PVT-192 (mean = 3.4 ms, SD = 0.8 ms). (B) RTbox versus PC-PVT on a Dell Precision M4500 with a gaming mouse (mean = 7.8 ms, SD = 1.0 ms). (C) RTbox versus PC-PVT on a Dell Precision M4500 with a standard mouse (mean = 35.7 ms, SD = 2.6 ms). All three plots were cropped at 2,000 ms on the horizontal axis

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