The Superlab is a computer program which lets you write your own experiments.  It lets you control the timing of the experiment, present stimuli in a standard manner to all subjects, and will record the response time and accuracy of the response made by the subject.

There is almost no end to the type of experiments you can write.  There are many examples in the directory "Experiments" within the program.

Here are two which were written by my lab assistants after about two hours of study:


The Mouse by Josh Keezer

Subjects are presented with either a) a picture of a mouse with the buttons indicated or b) a rectangular form with two squares at one end.  They are told to press the left mouse button if the left square is grey and the right mouse button if the right square is grey.  In both conditions the object rotates 180 degrees on some trials.

The data includes the response time of the subject as well as the accuracy of the response.  Timing starts with the presentation of the stimulus and ends with the mouse click.

Possible analyses include:

    1. Contrasting the response time to right versus left clicks.
    2. Contrasting the response time to upright and inverted images.
    3. Contrasting the response time between the picture of the mouse and the rectangle.
    4. Using a within subject design to see the effects of practice on the task.

Possible variations include:

    1. Including trials with the mouse and rectangle rotated 90 and 45 degrees in all directions.
    2. Changing the stimuli to abstract designs.
    3. Adding color variations that are superfluous to the task -- as distracters.



Memory by Brianne Hughes

In this experiment, the subject is presented with twenty words.  Each word is presented for three seconds and is immediately replaced by the subsequent word.  There are two conditions.  The words are either small or large.  In each condition, the words remain the same size and are always presented in the center of the screen.

No response is collected by the computer.  The subject either says the words or writes them down.  This eliminates variations in typing and spelling ability among the subjects.  If the subject responds orally, experimenters can either run an audio recorder or have a typed list of the words and check them off as the subject remembers them.

Possible analyses include:

    1. Contrast the performance of the subjects depending on the size of the word.
    2. Separate the list into early, middle, and late sections and contrast the ability to remember words at various points in the list.
    3. Contrast the type of word remembered - frequent and common versus unusual and rare.

Possible variations include:

    1. Lengthen or shorten the list of words.
    2. Use objects versus words
    3. Use color on some words and not others
    4. Lengthen or shorten the time the words are presented to the subjects.

If you want to write an experiment using Superlab, contact the lab assistant -- the schedules are on my door.  We will try to give you the best help possible -- but patience is always in order when dealing with a computer!  There is complete documentation and examples of sample experiments in my office.

At present, I plan to mount Superlab in the Student Project Room in the basement of the Computer Center.  This is a small room and is reasonably quiet.  The key is available at the Help Desk in the 24 hour room.  If you need to run subjects when the Help Desk is not open, see me.

You should schedule the Student Project Room by putting up a calendar page with your name on the dates and times you are going to be using it.  You can create a calendar in WordPerfect by going to File/New/Calendar.

If you have scheduled subjects too closely and they have to wait for you, make sure that you put a chair in the hall for them -- and remember to put it back when you leave.  Put signs up to tell your subjects how to get to the room, so they don't bother people in the Math department or Computer Center.  Store them in the Project Room so you will have them for the next session.


© Marilyn Shea, November 1999
Department of Psychology, University of Maine at Farmington