Interfacing Brain Products hardware and software from your favorite experiment control software

by Dr. Alex Kreilinger
Strategic Product Manager (Brain Products
)

Brain Products strives to ensure compatibility with a wide range of software solutions applicable in all stages of your research project. Recent collaborations with the most established designers of software solutions for stimulus presentation and experiment control make your experiments more effortless to run. With centralized control and automatization, you can reduce errors and increase reliability when conducting your experiments.

The most precise way to synchronize events to recorded physiological signals (EEG, EMG, EOG, …) is to send hardware triggers that are directly embedded in the data stream. Therefore, it is crucial to make sending  triggers from the experiment control software to our amplifiers as straightforward as possible. For sending these hardware triggers, we recommend using the parallel port, or even better, the TriggerBox, since parallel ports on modern computers are becoming more and more a rarity.

Apart from sending triggers, you may also want to directly control functions in our recording software, BrainVision Recorder. Remote Control Server 2 (RCS), which was recently introduced in our Press Release, provides exactly this functionality: simply run RCS on the recording computer and any software that connects to it via TCP can send commands in order to remotely control almost all of the functions in BrainVision Recorder. Even more, this communication works bidirectionally, i.e., it is possible to see warning messages in the experiment control software immediately when things go wrong (for example, after accidentally disconnecting a cable). Integrating this communication with sending triggers enables you to manage the complete experiment with your experiment control software. Now, you have the option of automating critical steps in your recording sessions to make data acquisition as sleek as possible. This will decrease the potential for errors while being able to guarantee perfect synchronization between events and recorded signals.

As of now, we are proud to announce that such integrations exist for three major players: E-Prime® from Psychology Software Tools, Presentation® from Neurobehavioral Systems, Inc., and Experiment Builder from SR Research Ltd.

The different integrations have been created to best suit the respective design philosophies of these three experiment control software solutions. The different styles attest to the flexibility which is possible due to the open and straightforward protocol of RCS. However, the  thing they all have in common is that you can easily employ different triggering (like the TriggerBox and parallel port), and that a wide selection of commands for RCS are already implemented for maximum usability.

E-Prime®

For E-Prime®, this integration comes in the form of the E-Prime® Extensions for Brain Products. This toolbox comes with pre-defined package calls that can simply be drag-and-dropped into your experiment and with InLine commands for additional versatility. Example experiments are included to demonstrate how to use the new functions. In addition to the parallel port or Chronos®, which can now connect to actiCHamp, actiCHamp Plus and BrainAmp amplifiers via adapters, the TriggerBox can simply be used as a serial object and package calls for sending triggers are included as well.

Experiment Control E-Prime

Presentation®

Neurobehavioral Systems provides the BrainVisionRemotePCLExtension for Presentation® on Bitbucket. This extension comprises commands for all the relevant functions that can be used to remotely control BrainVision Recorder. Independent from the extension, the TriggerBox can simply be used as a serial device in Presentation’s Output Ports Settings.

Experiment Builder

Most recently, SR Research has included Brain Products integration in Experiment Builder, their drag-and-drop graphical programming environment for creating psychology/neuroscience experiments. Dedicated nodes provide functionalities such as configuring the BrainVision Recorder workspace, controlling data acquisition (starting/stopping recording) and sending synchronization triggers to mark key trial events. Example experiment templates are included that illustrate the integration functionality.

Experimental Control Experiment Builder

If you are using Brain Products equipment and any of these tools, feel free to test the new integrations and benefit immediately by conveniently handing over control to just one main workstation, and by decreasing the potential of human error thanks to the automatization and monitoring capabilities of RCS. In other words, less potential problems for you to worry about and more time to focus on the bigger picture of your research!

Please find more information and examples on how to use these integrations in your future experiments on our website. Remember to come back for potential new additions in the future or contact us if you have done work with RCS yourself or have an idea about how and where it may be useful!

©Brain Products GmbH 2019