REPP: A robust cross-platform solution for online sensorimotor synchronization experiments


Sensorimotor synchronization (SMS), the rhythmic coordination of perception and action, is a fundamental human skill that supports many behaviors, including music and dance (Repp, 2005; Repp & Su, 2013). Traditionally, SMS experiments have been performed in the laboratory using finger tapping paradigms, and have required equipment with high temporal fidelity to capture the asynchronies between the time of the tap and the corresponding cue event. Thus, SMS is particularly challenging to study with online research, where variability in participants’ hardware and software can introduce uncontrolled latency and jitter into recordings. Here we present REPP (Rhythm ExPeriment Platform), a novel technology for measuring SMS in online experiments that can work efficiently using the built-in microphone and speakers of standard laptop computers. In a series of calibration and behavioral experiments, we demonstrate that REPP achieves high temporal accuracy (latency and jitter within 2 ms on average), high test-retest reliability both in the laboratory (r = .87) and online (r = .80), and high concurrent validity (r = .94). We also show that REPP is fully automated and customizable, enabling researchers to monitor experiments in real time and to implement a wide variety of SMS paradigms. We discuss online methods for ensuring high recruiting efficiency and data quality, including pre-screening tests and automatic procedures for quality monitoring. REPP can therefore open new avenues for research on SMS that would be nearly impossible in the laboratory, reducing experimental costs while massively increasing the reach, scalability, and speed of data collection.

Behavior Research Methods

Code, documentaiton, and data available here.