MouseTracker: Software for studying real-time mental processing using a computer mouse-tracking method

Jonathan B. Freeman, Nalini Ambady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the present article, we present a software package, MouseTracker, that allows researchers to use a computer mouse-tracking method for assessing real-time processing in psychological tasks. By recording the streaming x-, y-coordinates of the computer mouse while participants move the mouse into one of multiple response alternatives, motor dynamics of the hand can reveal the time course of mental processes. MouseTracker provides researchers with fine-grained information about the real-time evolution of participant responses by sampling 60-75 times/sec the online competition between multiple response alternatives. MouseTracker allows researchers to develop and run experiments and subsequently analyze mouse trajectories in a user-interactive, graphicsbased environment. Experiments may incorporate images, letter strings, and sounds. Mouse trajectories can be processed, averaged, visualized, and explored, and measures of spatial attraction/curvature, complexity, velocity, and acceleration can be computed. We describe the software and the method, and we provide details on mouse trajectory analysis. We validate the software by demonstrating the accuracy and reliability of its trajectory and reaction time data. The latest version of MouseTracker is freely available at http://mousetracker.jbfreeman.net.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-241
Number of pages16
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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