Research Methodologies

The INSPIRE lab offers a large selection of equipment to facilitate many different research methodologies.

On this page, you can explore the various equipment we have available for you:

Hardware & Software
Communication, Audio & Visual
Eye Tracking
Physiological Measures

INSPIRE’s cutting-edge facilities allow for a wide range of sophisticated research projects. Using remote-control touchscreens, researchers can monitor and manage multiple top-of-the-line workstations that simultaneously capture behavioural, physiological, and cognitive data. There measures are readily available: electromyography, electrodermal activity, blood pressure variability, impedance cardiography, heart rate variability, pulse plethysmography, skin temperature, respiration, eye tracking, and audio-visual interactions. The capture of these data can be synchronized with a large variety of individual or group experimental tasks in which our researchers assess, for example, participants’ perceptions, opinions, thought processes and emotions, in response to various stimuli or scenarios.

Hardware & Software

The main stations throughout the facility are equipped with Dell Optiplex 990 computers with an i5 Intel core, running Windows 7. The stimulus presentation computers are loaded with the most recent version of E-Prime and equipped with 1 ms response time keyboard. They also have matlab, powerpoint, and internet access for online presentations (prezi, youtube, surveys). A select number of workstations also run a complete suite of Microsoft Office 2010. The computers dedicated to physiological data acquisition are loaded with the most recent versions of Mindware Technologies' signal collection/analysis software packages.

Communication, Audio & Visual

There are many ways to communicate within the different spaces in the facility. Experimenters can speak either directly to participants via their headsets, or broadcast to a group of participants at a time (either through headsets or the ceiling speaker).

Using a "group mode" function, experimenters can organize social interactions such that participants may speak directly to one another in collaboration or competition. Real-time monitoring of all audio and video feeds is possible in the experiment control rooms. Experimenters can focus on each participant individually, in pairs, groups of 4 or even 8.

All of the research cubes in the INSPIRE laboratory have a semi-concealed video camera with panning and zooming capabilities aimed at the participant's face. When required, these cameras can be activated to record participants' facial reactions or interactions, and this recording can by synchronized with all other behavioural and physiological measures also being acquired. Additional cameras mounted on the ceilings of individual testing rooms can capture a more global view of participants. These cameras cannot record and are only used for monitoring. Each individual cube is equipped with a headset comprised of noise-cancelling headphones and a microphone. Each experiment room also has a ceiling speaker for broadcasting stimuli or instructions to all participants without using the headsets.

Physiological Measures

The INSPIRE lab is fully equipped to collect a range of physiological measures in the Standard Suite stations and Eye Tracking Suite stations. All of the physiological instruments and measurements available in the lab are supported by the BioLab Acquisition Software (Mindware Technologies). BioLab can quickly and easily acquire data from MindWare's entire line of hardware including all BioNex instruments. It is also has native support for digitizing audio and video, allowing for the simultaneous synchronous acquisition of physiological data and up to 4 A/V sources. Available measurements include: Impedance cardiography (ZCG), Galvanic skin conductance (GSC), Electromyography (EMG), Electroencephalography (EEG), Blood pressure (BP) monitoring, Photoplethysmography or Optic plethysmography, Respiratory Inductance Plethysmography, and Temperature monitoring. Below, you can read more about each of these measures.

Impedence cardiography

Curious to know how certain situations, events, persons, and objects affect people’s levels of physiological arousal and cardiovascular functioning? Do you want to infer mood states, levels of engagement and effort, threat versus challenge responses to stressors, and other phenomena in response to a psychological task or experimental manipulation? Are you interested to know how personality, mental disorders, and psychological stress affect physiological states, events, processes, and reactivity? Impedance cardiography measures hemodynamic paramaters such as cardiac output, ventricular contractility, heart rate variability, and peripheral resistance that can be used to infer changes in physiological arousal in response to a psychological event, state, or process as well as levels of physiological arousal at rest (i.e., baseline). Impedance cardiography is useful to social, cognitive, personality, developmental, and neuro- psychologists because it provides an objective, unbiased record of changes in physiological arousal (i.e., cardiovascular activity and reactivity) in response to psychological events and states that are not directly observable such as emotions and moods, mental schema and associations, motivation and effort, preferences and dispositions, etc. As such, it is an excellent tool to operationalize, test, and validate these latent constructs as well as to obtain an actual record of the biological substrates of psychological phenomena.

Electrodermal activity

EDA has been used for more than a century and will no doubt be used for many more years. This recording device is inexpensive, non-invasive and quick to set up. While other measures (e.g. electrocardiogram, cardiac impedance, electromyography, eye tracking) may complement EDA well, only a measure of respiration is necessary (e.g. the respiratory belt). Put simply, EDA measures the skin conductance level and the responses caused by changes in the sweat glands which reflect emotional responsivity and arousal of the sympathetic nervous system. EDA is used in in many different areas of psychological research and in response to a wide variety of presented stimuli.  It also occupies a respectable role in clinical research, as some clinical populations (e.g., phobias, mood disorder, and psychopathy) demonstrate unique patterns EDA reactivity.

Eye Tracking

Does your research question revolve around perception, attention or eye-tracking? Consider our Eye-Tracking Suite which is equipped with two identical eye-tracking stations, each with their own eye-tracker (Eyelink 1000, SR Research). They also each have a chin rest, headphones, attachments for physiological measures, and the EyeLink System. The software includes Experiment Builder for designing experiments and Data Viewer for cleaning, screening, and analyzing data.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure exerted by blood that circulates in the body on the walls of blood vessels. Systolic BP – the top number on a typical BP reading – measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts). Diastolic BP – the bottom number on a typical BP reading – measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Heart Rate Variability

Ever wonder what your heartbeat looks like? How about how it changes in response to different psychological phenomena? Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the variation of the time interval between heart beats as a person breathes. HRV is measured using an electrocardiogram (ECG) and is one of the best markers of autonomic activity in the body.


Electromyography (EMG) is a measurement tool that enables the recording of electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles (i.e., the muscles people use to generate actions). EMG signals can be used in clinical and biomedical contexts (e.g., to identify neuromuscular diseases, assess motor control, etc.). The procedure involves skin preparation – shaving any excess hair, cleaning the skin with an alcohol pad – to allow for better adhesion of the electrode, followed by placement of the electrode on the skin.


Are you interested in how your stimuli affect respiration? Or maybe would you like to monitor respiration for control purposes? If it is the case, you can assess it with the piezo-based respiratory belts. The respiratory belts measure the change of volume of the thorax or abdomen. They contain a sensor that is reactive to stretch. When the individual inhales, the volume of their thorax or abdomen increases and stretches the belt.

Skin Temperature

You would like to monitor skin temperature? Continuous monitoring of the skin surface temperature is possible through the skin temperature probe. Equipped with interchangeable thermistors, the skin temperature probe provides a highly accurate temperature reading.

Pulse Plethysmography

How do changes in blood flow affect our body? With each cardiac cycle, the heart pumps blood to the periphery. The change in volume caused by this pressure pulse is detected by illuminating the skin with the light from a light-emitting diode (LED) and then measuring the amount of light either transmitted or reflected to a photodiode. Each cardiac cycle appears as a peak. Because blood flow to the skin can be modulated by other physiological systems, the plethysmograph can also be used to monitor breathing, hypovolemia, and other circulatory conditions. The shape of the waveform differs from subject to subject, and varies with the location and manner in which the device is attached.

Limb movement and vibration

Limb movement or vibration is something that you want to monitor? You can do so through the accelerometers.

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