NIMH MonkeyLogic: Behavioral control and data acquisition in MATLAB

J Neurosci Methods. 2019 Jul 15:323:13-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2019.05.002. Epub 2019 May 6.


Background: Computerized control of behavioral paradigms is an essential element of neurobehavioral studies, especially physiological recording studies that require sub-millisecond precision. Few software solutions provide a simple, flexible environment to create and run these applications. MonkeyLogic, a MATLAB-based package, was developed to meet these needs, but faces a performance crisis and obsolescence due to changes in MATLAB itself.

New method: Here we report a complete redesign and rewrite of MonkeyLogic, now NIMH MonkeyLogic, that natively supports the latest 64-bit MATLAB on the Windows platform. Major layers of the underlying real-time hardware control were removed and replaced by custom toolboxes: NIMH DAQ Toolbox and MonkeyLogic Graphics Library. The redesign resolves undesirable delays in data transfers and limitations in graphics capabilities.

Results: NIMH MonkeyLogic is essentially a new product. It provides a powerful new scripting framework, has dramatic speed enhancements and provides major new graphics abilities.

Comparison with existing method: NIMH MonkeyLogic is fully backward compatible with earlier task scripts, but with better temporal precision. It provides more input device options, superior graphics and a new real-time closed-loop programming model. Because NIMH MonkeyLogic requires no commercial toolbox and has a reduced hardware requirement, implementation costs are substantially reduced.

Conclusion: NIMH MonkeyLogic is a versatile, powerful, up-to-date tool for controlling a wide range of experiments. It is freely available from

Keywords: Cognition; Human; Monkey; Neurophysiology; Psychophysics; Software.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Behavioral Research / instrumentation
  • Behavioral Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • National Institute of Mental Health (U.S.)
  • Neurophysiology / instrumentation
  • Neurophysiology / methods*
  • Neurosciences / instrumentation
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Psychophysics / instrumentation
  • Psychophysics / methods*
  • Software
  • United States
  • Visual Perception / physiology*