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Building Experiments in PsychoPy
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Building Experiments in PsychoPy



June 2018 | 312 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

PsychoPy is an open-source (free) software package for creating rich, dynamic experiments in psychology, neuroscience and linguistics. It provides an intuitive graphical interface (the “Builder”) as well as the option to insert Python code. This combination makes it easy enough for teaching, but also flexible enough for all manner of behavioural experiments. As a result, PsychoPy has become the software package of choice in psychology departments at universities all over the world.

Divided into three parts and with unique learning features to guide readers at whatever level they are at, this textbook is suitable for teaching practical undergraduate classes on research methods, or as a reference text for the professional scientist. 

The book is written by Jonathan Peirce, the original creator of PsychoPy and Michael MacAskill who have utilised their breadth of experience in Python development to educate students and researchers in this intuitive, yet powerful, experiment generation package.

 
Chapter 1: Introduction
 
Section 1: For the beginner
 
Chapter 2: Building your first experiment
 
Chapter 3: Using images - a study into face perception
 
Chapter 4: Timing and brief stimuli: Posner cueing
 
Chapter 5: Creating dynamic stimuli (revealing text and moving stimuli)
 
Chapter 6: Providing feedback: simple Code Components
 
Chapter 7: Ratings: Measure the Big 5 personality constructs
 
Chapter 8: Randomization, blocks and counterbalancing: a bilingual
 
Chapter 9: Using the mouse for input: creating a visual search task li
 
Section 2: For the professional
 
Chapter 10: Implementing research designs with randomization
 
Chapter 11: Coordinates and color spaces
 
Chapter 12: Understanding your computer timing issues
 
Chapter 13: Monitors and Monitor Center
 
Chapter 14: Debugging Your Experiment
 
Chapter 15: Pro-tips, tricks, and lesser-known features
 
Section 3: For the specialist
 
Chapter 16: Psychophysics, stimuli and staircases
 
Chapter 17: Building an fMRI study
 
Chapter 18: Building an EEG study
 
Chapter 19: Add eye-tracking to your experiment
 
A: Mathematics refresher
 
B: Exercise solutions

This friendly and comprehensive book should be required reading for any student planning a psychology/neuroscience experiment. It provides a friendly introduction for the non-programmer as well as a handy reference guide for the more advanced user. Your students will thank you for recommending it. Make sure that your library has it in stock.

Dr Joseph L Brooks
Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Keele University

Python is quickly becoming the programming language of choice in psychology and one very useful toolbox for designing and implementing experiments is PsychoPy. The PsychoPy Builder, in combination with this book, provides a smooth transition into the fine art of writing experiment code. This book is written by vision scientists, and it shows.

Tom Verguts
Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University

Including a variety of real-word examples and step-by-step screenshots for beginners with further sections for professionals, this a resource essential reading for anyone wanting to use it for serious research.

John Allen
School of Psychology, University of Kent

This book fills an incredibly important gap in the field. Many users of PsychoPy will be excited to learn that there is now a highly accessible and well-designed written guide to refine their skills. No more tinkering with the templates of other people’s scripts (unless you want to, of course). The book provides clear instructions on how to build computerized experiments from scratch to the exact specifications you want.

Having previously taught PsychoPy to university students, I am also convinced that the book will soon turn into one of their most cherished learning companions. In particular, its dedicated ‘Warning’ sections provide extremely handy reminders what to look out for when a script does not seem to do what it was meant to do. In fact, within 30 min of reading the book, I spotted a problem I currently had with one of my own scripts (the typical ‘duh!’ moment).

Equally handy are the book’s chapters that outline how to make PsychoPy ‘speak’ to external devices, ranging from eye-trackers to fMRI scanners. They provide invaluable information about all the nitty-gritty details that should be considered under such circumstances. In consequence, the book really helps with handling any unnecessary panic that can set in when setting up a new experiment.

The only thing that can be criticized about this book is that it was not published any earlier. I am a bit envious of the generations of new users that can simply look up ‘loop ordering options’ or ‘non-slip timing’.

Susanne Quadflieg, Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology,
University of Bristol

This book is a esential reading for anyone wanting to use open-source software for experimental design in Psychology. It's written in a very comprehensive and readable style and includes step-by-step guides for designing real experiments for both beginners and professionals. If it would have been published years ago, I would have designed my experiments in PsychoPy! Highly recommended.

Dr Luis Morales
Psychology, Universidad Loyola Andalucía
June 4, 2018

It's a great book written in a great cause. In my opinion, students hate generating tasks in complex and unfriendly software packages - and need a great deal of workshop time and support in order to be able to do so. PsychoPy is the easiest package I have come across, and this book is a great - and approachable - introduction. It is the book I would have written if I had known anything about PsychoPy! (And I didn't). But with it, I have taken my own first steps to binning those horrible software packages of yesterday. Valuable for me, invaluable for those students needing to write their own computer tasks, and invaluable (again) for project supervisors with time to save.

Dr James Jackson
Psychology Department, Leeds Trinity University
April 8, 2018
Key features
KEY FEATURES:
  • Co-written by Jonathan Peirce, the original creator of PsychoPy.
  • Jonathan Peirce runs a support section of his website and has PsychoPy tutorials available on YouTube.
  • The final three chapters concentrate on methods in cognitive psychology—an area of psychology where this kind of software is most commonly used.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 6: Providing Feedback: Simple Code Components


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