Behavioural Cognition Facility

Behavioural Cognition Facility

The department operates a number of behavioural cognition facilities that are commonly used to run paradigms such as Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP), Masked Priming, Repetiton Blindness and Attentional Blink. In addition to our laboratories there are also three laptop computers that can be borrowed for research purposes in the field.


Researchers are able to run multiple subjects from the same study on different computers without worrying about any differences between machines potentially confounding their results.

The computers in these labs have identical hardware configurations and also have an identical operating system and software configuration that cannot be altered (deliberately or accidentally). The operating system and software setup is archived and is able to be restored at any time, quickly and without the need to manually backup researchers scripts, stimuli and resulting data files.

Testing Equipment

Behavioural Desktop details

Technical Specifications 

NameLicense Detail
Presentation®USB Key Required
SuperlabTimed Activations on request
E-PrimeE-Run only, full version with USB key
MATLAB / PsychtoolboxNetwork License
Dell Optiplex GX990
Labs in useMEG, Eyetrackers, Optotrak
Operating SystemWindows 7 Enterprise SP1, 64-Bit
ProcessorIntel Core i5-2400 @ 3.10Ghz
Storage2 x 500GB SATA HDD (Mirrored) (60GB System, 440GB Data)
Optical DriveDVD+-R/CD-RW Combo

Samsung S27SA950

Video CardATI Radeon HD 6450 or NVidia (MEG)
Audio CardCreative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD
Button box interfaceComputerboards PCI-DIO24 with Custom box
Other portsUSB 2.0, Serial, Parallel
Dell Optiplex 9010
Labs in useBH1->5, Booth, Memory, NIBS, Cyberglove
Operating SystemWindows 7 Enterprise SP1, 64 Bit
ProcessorIntel Core i5-3470 @ 3.60Ghz
Storage2 x 128GB Mirrored SSD (50GB System, 78GB Data)
Optical DriveDVD+-R/CD-RW Combo

Samsung S27SA950

Video CardATI Radeon HD 7450 or Nvidia GT330 (Cyberglove only)
Audio CardCreative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD
Button box interface

Computerboards PCI-DIO24 with custom button box

Cedrus RB830 (BH1->5, Booth)

Other portsUSB 3.0, 2.0, Serial x 2, Parallel

Hardware / Software guides

The following pages contain information that is specific to a certain stimulus presentation package or peripheral on the lab PCs.

Deep Freeze 

All lab users will login to the computers with a common lab account. This account has administrative rights and can install software and change system settings.

Any software installations or changes that are made will be undone automatically and completely when the system restarts. This is being performed by software called Deep Freeze.

By preserving system integrity this way we now encourage researchers to make changes, test new software and troubleshoot any problems they might be having with their scripts without making permanent changes to the computers that could adversely affect their own or other peoples research.

  • All software installed (even temporarily) must have a valid license.
  • Permanent changes can be made to the systems by contacting the Department of Cognitive Science Systems Administrator.

Where to store Script and Data Files

With Deep Freeze in action it is extremely important to know where to put scripts and data. Otherwise when you restart the computer you could quite easilly lose all the data you just spent hours collecting.

The experimental PCs have multiple partitions, in Windows these are labelled C:\ and D:\. The C drive contains Windows 7, application software and anything saved to this drive is deleted when the computer restarts. That is why you must store your files on the D:\ drive where they will not be automatically deleted.

Deep Freeze

You should place all your files required for your experiment in the folder D:\ExpPC_Files\. There is a shortcut to this directory on the Windows desktop. Make a folder in here with your name if you wish. Do not store anything on the C:\ drive or it will be automatically deleted without any way of being recovered.

A note on data retention

No data on an experimental computer should be considered "Backed Up" or "Safe". Experimenters are responsible for having copies of any scripts or stimuli loaded onto the computers and regularly taking copies of results they've collected.

Differences between Windows 7 and xp labs

  • Win7 does not support hardware/service profiles, therefore there are no modes to select when booting.
  • Presentation does not have access to the DirectX Hardware Audio Mixer. Experiments will need modified and audio latency will need verification by researchers.
  • Eyelink Experiments should switch to the ASIO driver for low latency audio.

Behavioural Laptop Details

The department has 9 MacBook Pro computers available for short-term loans for the purpose of behavioural testing.

Conditions of Laptop Loans 

One problem we've always had with supplying laptops for testing is that people become very attached to them. To the point where they never return as people are worried they wont be able to pick them up again when they need to test a subject. While the approach works well for whoever gets in first, it doesn't work so well for everyone else.

So these laptops will only be able to be borrowed under the following conditions.

  1. Loans are for no more than two calendar weeks with the last day falling on a business day.
  2. You must be able to return the laptop by the end of business hours on the last day of your booking.
  3. Extensions are possible but may only be made after the current booking has ended and are limited to two calendar weeks (subject to availability).
  4. Research bookings trump non-research bookings, but only if amended before the non-research loan period begins.

These rules are designed so that everyone has a fair chance of booking a laptop for research use when they need it. The non-availability of a laptop after your booking period should be viewed as a deadline and your research planned accordingly.

The four laptops are identical so if you make an extension or a repeat booking it need not be for the same computer you currently are using.

Where do I pickup/return/store the laptops.

Laptops can be picked up and returned to any members of the Administrative Team. It is the borrowers responsibility to either organise a collection/drop-off time at least a day in advance or else be flexible enough to find one of the administrative team at some stage on the collection/dropoff day.

Refer to Data storage instructions as per the desktop details. Every time you return a laptop you should assume your files will not be on it the next time you pick it up.

Dual Boot Setup

Each Macbook Pro has Mac OS 10.9 and Windows 7 installed. By default the computer will boot into Windows 7, to boot into Mac OS X switch it on and hold down the "option" key on the keyboard until you get a boot menu.

Optimisations for testing 

Windows 7 is setup and optimised for testing the same way as the desktop testing computers. It will have no additional application software installed.

Mac OS X will have our standard applications installed, the same as your desktop computer. It will however have no specific optimisations for behavioural testing. It will also have general purpose applications installed such as Microsoft Office, SPSS and Endnote installed.

Experimental Software
NameVersionLicense Detail
Presentation®Multiple - 14.9 / 15.x / 16.xUSB Key Required
Superlab4.5.2Timed Activations
E-Prime2.0.10.92 (Release Candidate)E-Run only
MATLABR2011b15 seat concurrent license
System Details
Apple Macbook Pro 15" (ExpMac 12 through 20)
Operating SystemWindows 7 SP1 & Mac OS X 10.7
Processor2.2Ghz Intel Core i7
RAM8GB 1333Mhz DDR3
Primary hard disk500GB SATA
Optical DriveDVD Writer
MonitorApple 15" High-Res Matte Display
Video CardATI Radeon HD 6750M
Audio CardIntegrated Audio
Button box interfaceNone
Other portsUSB 2.0, Firewire 800, Thunderbolt
System Details (older Macbook Pros, used from 2008 through Dec 2012).
Apple Macbook Pro (Expmac8 through 11)
Operating SystemWindows XP SP3 & Mac OS X 10.5
Processor2.5Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
Primary hard disk250GB SATA
Secondary hard diskNone
Optical DriveDVD Writer
Floppy DriveNo
Zip DriveNo
MonitorLaptop 15" Wide-screen LCD
Video CardNvidia GeForce 8800M GT
Audio CardIntegrated Intel Audio
Button box interfaceNone
Other portsUSB 2.0, Firewire 400, Firewire 800
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