Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A study of executive function in children

Ivan Ropovik just published a study in Intelligence looking at executive function in children. He used a number of PEBL tests, as well as several non-PEBL versions of tests for which PEBL has implementations, to look at the factor structure of executive control in children.  One of their basic covariance (structural equation) model of the data is shown on the left.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Running PEBL without installing

Currently, versions of PEBL running on Windows require that you install the software into your c:\Program Files\ directory.  This is inconvenient for some folks, as you must have administrator access. PEBL doesn't really require that you install in order to run, but by doing so you can do things like launching from the menu and letting all users on a computer access PEBL.

If you are having trouble installing, try downloading the stand-alone version here:


This will download a .zip file.  Put it wherever you want (i.e., the desktop), and then right click and select 'Extract All...' to unzip it (there are other ways to do this too, so use whatever you are comfortable with).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Installing PEBL 0.13 on Mac OSX 10.9 (UPDATE)

Since this was posted, I have figured out the problems with PEBL on OSX and uploaded a new fix.  This new fix will work on OSX 10.7 and newer.  Here is a screencast for the new version, the older screencast is still available for users of OSX 10.6, and those who want to install the BST.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Paper in Journal of Neuropsychological Methods: PEBL and the PEBL Test Battery

I just published a paper with Brian Piper called  The Psychology Experiment Building Language (PEBL) and PEBL Test Battery (see here for paper)
that provides the most comprehensive description of PEBL to date.  Above I show an (updated) figure from that paper showing the overall growth in PEBL usage over time.  The final tally for 2013 was about 17000 downloads of the pebl installer (22,000 downloads total including other files like manuals), and about 55 published manuscripts, theses, conference papers, etc. that I know of.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recent research on executive function and driving

Conceptual model of individual differences in Executive function. source
I recently came across a series of studies coming out of the University of Toronto Interactive Media Lab studying executive function and driving, lead by Sachi Mizobuchi.  The basic question under investigation is whether the different aspects of executive function, which are known to vary somewhat independently across people, can predict aspects of driving performance.  The three aspects of EF under consideration are shifting, updating, and inhibition.  These each seem like they would be important for driving, especially in the context of operating other devices (shifting) while following directions (updating) and trying to avoid traffic and filter out distracting information (inhibition). This research used the PEBL Bechara (Wisconsin) Card Sorting task to measure shifting.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

That is so random: The PEBL Random Generation Task

Human random number generation has been studied for many years, maybe most famously by Alan Baddeley in his exploration of the central executive, and Akira Miyake in a later study of executive function.  Tasks such as this have been around a lot longer, and Towse and Neil (1998) published a lot of nice metrics of randomness that can be used to assess the quality of randomness of a sequence.

To implement a PEBL version of this, I modeled the version described in Miyake's paper, and implemented many of Towse and Niel's randomness measures to provide an automatic report. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Measuring Attention with the Kinect---and PEBL

Darren Stanley just completed his Master's thesis at RIT called "Measuring attention using the Microsoft Kinect"; the degree was in computer science.  The research is actually similar to another recent study by Qiu and Helbig (2012), that used more complicated motion capture setups, and used some PEBL tests for validation.

The study used three of PEBL's attention/vigilance tasks, the TOAV, the pCPT, and the PPVT to measure and induce an attention task set on 20 participants. They simultaneously measured behavioral signatures related to posture and facial gestures, gaze, audio, and some other things.  Then, they used regression analyses to determine which features predicted behavioral aspects of flagging attention (such as RT).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

PEBL in a browser: 4. The asychronous evaluator.

This is fourth in a series of blog posts describing porting PEBL to the browser using emscripten.

The biggest issue in running anything within a browser is that it has to by 'asynchronous'.  I'm still not completely sure about all the ins and outs of this, but what it essentially means is that anything the script does goes on hidden from the display of the browser, and it only gets updated when control is ceded back to the browser.

Friday, July 12, 2013

PEBL in a browser: 3. File system access

 This is third in a series of post about compiling PEBL into javascript using emscripten.

Like most moderately complex programs, PEBL uses files to store information it reads and enables it to run. For even the simplest programs, PEBL must have access to:
  • A script file which defines the experiment
  • A set of files containing located in pebl-lib containing PEBL-defined functions.
Also, if you want any images, text (which need fonts), or the like, these would also be stored in files.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

PEBL in a browser: 2. Getting PEBL to compile.

This is second in a series of blog posts describing the issues involved in compiling PEBL via emscripten so it can run within a web browser.  It is probably mostly of interest to developers who are trying to port their own applications via emscripten.

Friday, July 5, 2013

PEBL in a browser: 1. Emscripten basics

PEBL was born before web browsers were very capable and prior was always targeted at running directly on users computers in compiled code.  But with the emergence of many new devices (tablets, phones, etc.) and an acceptance of new ways of running experiments (Mechanical turk), it is apparent that if PEBL could run from the web, it would open up a lot of opportunities.  An important one is for demonstration tasks for use in classroom settings.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Is less more? Yes!

Christopher Fox and colleagues weighed in on this classic question with the help of volunteers (N = 207) from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, Oregon. Museum patrons ranging in age from 6 to 74 were given the opportunity to not just see science but to actually participate in the scientific process! They completed the full-length Berg Card Sorting Testing test, a classic test that measures executive function. The correlation between all 128 trials and the first 64 was quite good for perseverative errors (r = + 0.77) and even better for the categories completed (r = .86) and total errors (r = .87). This study gave evidence that a shortened version of this test (64 cards) may be comparable to the classic, longer version. Thus, giving evidence that "Less is more"!

For further information about this study, see Fox CJ, Mueller ST, Gray HM, Raber J, Piper BJ (2013) Evaluation of a short-form of the Berg Card Sorting Test. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63885. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063885

"I've got to take a leak so bad I can taste it"

Because it is free to use, PEBL gets adopted by many researchers outside the core of psychology.  A new paper just appeared in a Urology Journal called "Need to void and attentional process interrelationships." by a french group, first author Marylène Jousse. They studied how your when you have to 'go', your attention and cognition may be affected.

There is some really cool stuff in this paper.  First, there is apparently a device called an 'Urgeomotor".  And a scale called the  "Urogenital Distress Inventory score".  And a measurement process called "uroflowmetry", a type of Urodynamic testing. And theories about the neural circuitry involved in monitoring and deferring the need to go.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Situation Awareness and OCD

To commemorate a new paper using the PEBL SATest, (see
Tumkaya, S., Karadag, F., Mueller, S. T., Ugurlu, T. T., Oguzhanoglu, N. K., Ozdel, O., Bayraktutan, M. (2013). Situation awareness in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatry Research. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2013.02.009), I decided to write a little background about the test here.

There are two separate worlds of dynamic visual attention and memory research.  One basic research domain studies "Visual Working Memory", whereas in applied domains reserachers study "Situation Awareness".  Although each domain has a distinct focus (VWM tends to move toward understanding neural function, and SA researchers scale up to more complex kinds of awareness),  much work from both camps involves looking and remembering objects on screens.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Milestone 100 PEBL Publications

According to my own detailed searches over the past few years, PEBL has now been cited or used by over 100 articles, theses, and tech reports.  A detailed list, with links, is located at http://pebl.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Publications_citing_PEBL#Theses_and_Technical_Reports

If you have published a paper using PEBL or the PEBL Test battery, please check to see if you are listed.  If not, let us know.  And if you are in the process of publishing, be sure to cite PEBL!