Measuring sequences of keystrokes with jsPsych: Reliability of response times and interkeystroke intervals


  • Pinet S
  • Zielinski C
  • Mathôt S M
  • Dufau Stéphane
  • F.-X. Alario
  • Longcamp M


  • Interkeystroke intervals Online experiment Motor sequence

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Although the precision and reliability of response time (RT) measurements performed via Web-based interfaces have been evaluated, sequences of keystrokes have never been investigated in detail. Keystrokes often occur in much more rapid succession than RTs, and operating systems may interpret successive or concomitant keyboard events according to both automatic and user-based settings. Sequence keystroke timing could thus be more sensitive than single RTs to noise in online measurements. Here, we quantified the precision and reliability of timing measures performed during sequences of keystrokes.We used the JavaScript jsPsych library to create an experiment involving finger-movement sequences, and ran it online with 633 participants. We manipulated the structure of three keystroke motor sequences, targeting a replication of previous findings regarding both RTs and interkeystroke intervals (IKIs). Our online data accurately reproduced the original results and allowed for a novel assessment of demographic variables such as age and gender. In parallel, we also measured the objective timing accuracy of the jsPsych interface by using specialized hardware and software, showing a constant 60-ms delay for RTs and a 0-ms delay for IKIs across the sequences. The distribution of IKIs revealed quantizing for a majority of participants, most likely due to the sampling frequency of their USB keyboards. Overall, these findings indicate that JsPsych provides good reliability and accuracy in sequence keystroke timings for mental chronometry purposes, through online recordings.

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