PC-PVT 2.0: An updated platform for psychomotor vigilance task testing, analysis, prediction, and visualization

J Neurosci Methods. 2018 Jul 1:304:39-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2018.04.007. Epub 2018 Apr 19.


Background: The psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) has been widely used to assess the effects of sleep deprivation on human neurobehavioral performance. To facilitate research in this field, we previously developed the PC-PVT, a freely available software system analogous to the "gold-standard" PVT-192 that, in addition to allowing for simple visual reaction time (RT) tests, also allows for near real-time PVT analysis, prediction, and visualization in a personal computer (PC).

New method: Here we present the PC-PVT 2.0 for Windows 10 operating system, which has the capability to couple PVT tests of a study protocol with the study's sleep/wake and caffeine schedules, and make real-time individualized predictions of PVT performance for such schedules. We characterized the accuracy and precision of the software in measuring RT, using 44 distinct combinations of PC hardware system configurations.

Results: We found that 15 system configurations measured RTs with an average delay of less than 10 ms, an error comparable to that of the PVT-192. To achieve such small delays, the system configuration should always use a gaming mouse as the means to respond to visual stimuli. We recommend using a discrete graphical processing unit for desktop PCs and an external monitor for laptop PCs.

Comparison with existing method: This update integrates a study's sleep/wake and caffeine schedules with the testing software, facilitating testing and outcome visualization, and provides near-real-time individualized PVT predictions for any sleep-loss condition considering caffeine effects.

Conclusions: The software, with its enhanced PVT analysis, visualization, and prediction capabilities, can be freely downloaded from https://pcpvt.bhsai.org.

Keywords: Alertness prediction; PVT-192; Psychomotor vigilance test; Reaction time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcomputers*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Software*
  • Wakefulness / drug effects
  • Wakefulness / physiology*


  • Caffeine