Wiesing, Michael ORCID: 0000-0001-8287-127X, Fink, Gereon R. ORCID: 0000-0002-8230-1856 and Weidner, Ralph (2020). Accuracy and precision of stimulus timing and reaction times with Unreal Engine and SteamVR. PLoS One, 15 (4). SAN FRANCISCO: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE. ISSN 1932-6203

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The increasing interest in Virtual Reality (VR) as a tool for neuroscientific research contrasts with the current lack of established toolboxes and standards. In several recent studies, game engines like Unity or Unreal Engine were used. It remains to be tested whether these software packages provide sufficiently precise and accurate stimulus timing and time measurements that allow inferring ongoing mental and neural processes. We here investigated the precision and accuracy of the timing mechanisms of Unreal Engine 4 and SteamVR in combination with the HTC Vive VR system. In a first experiment, objective external measures revealed that stimulus durations were highly accurate. In contrast, in a second experiment, the assessment of the precision of built-in timing procedures revealed highly variable reaction time measurements and inaccurate determination of stimulus onsets. Hence, we developed a new software-based method that allows precise and accurate reaction time measurements with Unreal Engine and SteamVR. Instead of using the standard timing procedures implemented within Unreal Engine, time acquisition was outsourced to a background application. Timing benchmarks revealed that the newly developed method allows reaction time measurements with a precision and accuracy in the millisecond range. Overall, the present results indicate that the HTC Vive together with Unreal Engine and SteamVR can achieve high levels of precision and accuracy both concerning stimulus duration and critical time measurements. The latter can be achieved using a newly developed routine that allows not only accurate reaction time measures but also provides precise timing parameters that can be used in combination with time-sensitive functional measures such as electroencephalography (EEG) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Item Type: Journal Article
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Wiesing, MichaelUNSPECIFIEDorcid.org/0000-0001-8287-127XUNSPECIFIED
Fink, Gereon R.UNSPECIFIEDorcid.org/0000-0002-8230-1856UNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-337352
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0231152
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS One
Volume: 15
Number: 4
Date: 2020
Place of Publication: SAN FRANCISCO
ISSN: 1932-6203
Language: English
Faculty: Unspecified
Divisions: Unspecified
Subjects: no entry
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Multidisciplinary SciencesMultiple languages
URI: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/id/eprint/33735


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