PsychPhotodiode - Measure visual stimulus onset via photo-diodes and PsychPortAudio.

Record a signal from a photo-diode connected to the audio input of a
soundcard via PsychPortAudio, and timestamp the signal to compute a
stimulus onset timestamp from the light flash picked up by the

Iow. we abuse the sound card as a mini-oszillograph with automatic timestamping.

Subfunctions and their meaning

pdiode = PsychPhotodiode(‘Open’ [deviceIndex][, sampleRate][, lrMode]);

  • Open audio device ‘deviceIndex’ for recording. Audio sampling will be
    performed at the given optional ‘sampleRate’ with the given number of
    audio input channels. ‘lrMode’ (0 = Mono: Sum of left and right channel,
    1 = Only left channel, 2 = Only right channel, 3 = Average of channels).

PsychPhotodiode(‘Close’, pdiode);

startTime = PsychPhotodiode(‘Start’, pdiode [, maxDurationSecs=3]);

  • Start audio capture immediately (ie., with minimum possible delay on
    your system), return a ‘startTime’ timestamp of when capture actually started
    or will start.

The option ‘maxDurationSecs’ allows to define an upper limit onto the duration
of the capture operation. The operation will stop automatically after the
given number of seconds. By default, the capture will run for 3 seconds.

[onsetTimeSecs, audiodata, rawaudiodata] = PsychPhotodiode(‘WaitSignal’, pdiode [, maxWaitTime=maxDurationSecs][, blocking=1]);

  • Wait for stimulus onset, as picked up from a running capture operation.
    Only call this function after a capture operation has been started via
    PsychPhotodiode(‘Start’), or it will error out.

The optional ‘maxWaitTime’ asks the driver to wait at most ‘maxWaitTime’
seconds for stimulus onset. By default it will wait up to as many seconds
as set in the PsychPhotodiode(‘Start’).

If stimulus onset has not happened yet and ‘maxWaitTime’ has not been
exceeded either, then the optional ‘blocking’ flag will define behaviour:
If set to 1 (or omitted), the driver will wait until stimulus onset or
timeout. If set to 0, the driver will return with empty [] return arguments
so you can retry later with another call to PsychPhotodiode(‘WaitSignal’).

On return from ‘WaitSignal’, data capture / waiting for a signal will
stop, unless ‘blocking’ was set to zero for polling and nothing was
picked up yet.

‘onsetTimeSecs’ is the system (=GetSecs)) time when a certain signal
strength (as set by PsychPhotodiode(‘TriggerLevel’) or more likely by
PsychPhotodiode(‘CalibrateTriggerLevel’)) was first exceeded since the
last call to PsychPhotodiode(‘Start’), ie. most likely due to onset of the
visual stimulus and corresponding light flash picked up by the photo-diode
and sent as a voltage spike to the soundcard input.

‘audiodata’ is the preprocessed row-vector of audiodata, used for
actual timestamping.

‘rawaudiodata’ is the vector or matrix of captured audiodata. 1 row for mono
recording, or a 2-row matrix (one row for each audio channel) in stereo
recording modes. Each value is an audio signal sample in range [-1 ; 1].

oldLevel = PsychPhotodiode(‘TriggerLevel’, pdiode [, newLevel]);

  • Return old and optionally set new trigger threshold level for the
    timestamping of onset of signals in PsychPhotodiode(‘GetResponse’).

‘oldLevel’ is the current/old level. ‘newLevel’ is the optional new
level. Level can be between 0 and 1, with a default level of 0.1 for 10%
of max signal intensity as trigger level.

newLevel = PsychPhotodiode(‘CalibrateTriggerLevel’, pdiode [, window][, triggerMult]);

  • Auto-Calibrate trigger threshold level for signal onset timestamping.

Returns the found triggerLevel in ‘newLevel’.

If the optional ‘window’ onscreen window handle is omitted, then:

This captures signal for 3 seconds, assuming the photo-diode(s) point to an
idle screen with black/background color. From that an optimal trigger level
is computed and assigned, which is ‘triggerMult’ times higher than the brightest
sample in the recorded “darkness” block and then use that triggerlevel as if
PsychPhotodiode(‘TriggerLevel’) had been called with that auto-selected level.
‘triggerMult’ defaults to 20 if omitted.

If the optional ‘window’ onscreen window handle is provided, then:

First the window is turned completely black, 3 seconds of “darkness” are
captured and maximum signal at black is computed. Then the window is
turned fully bright white, 3 seconds of “lightness” are captured and
maximum white signal is computed. Then the window goes dark again, and
the optimal triggerLevel is computed as weighted average of dark max
signal and white max signal, with ‘triggerMult’ defining the weighting
between 0.0 and 1.0. ‘triggerMult’ defaults to the reasonable value 0.5
if omitted.

PsychPhotodiode(‘Stop’, pdiode);

  • Stop capture as soon as possible.
Path   Retrieve current version from GitHub | View changelog