GRAPHIC STATE® 4 – Software for Behavioral Research



Graphic State 4 is a program designed to allow experimenters to create interactive experiment-control protocols for behavioral experiments using state logic. It is a conceptual extension and major improvement of state notation languages of the past. If you have used other state notation software before, you will move easily into using the Graphic State program. You’ll find a new elegance in state notation with robust power and incredible simplicity.

Graphic State uses a “point and click” screen that presents options to be selected by the user and represents the structure of each state graphically. It is inherently user friendly because the screen contains all of the options and acts as a universal prompt. You need not learn a language or remember what to type or how to type it for each option. It is all contained in each window.

Graphic State 4 experiments or protocols are created in windows that lead the user through constructing states. This is done graphically by specifying stimuli, the elapsed-time and the input-event (response) variables necessary to exit each state and make a transition to the next.

Graphic State 4 will run on Windows Xp or Windows 7, both 32- and 64-bit, operating systems.  A single USB port is all that is needed to interface as many as 16 completely independent stations.  Update your Graphic State 2 or Graphic State 3 systems by simply adding the software upgrade and the USB interface.  All of your other hardware, Habitest Lincs, Environment Control Boards (ECB), Powerbase and of course the Habitest Environments with a wide variety of stimulus and response devices as well as various cages, runways, arenas, etc., are all compatible with Graphic State 4.

Graphic State 4 moves out of the database and includes two programs, one to build protocols and view/analyze data and another, Graphic State Run-Time, for running experiments.  Install Graphic State 4 on as many computers as you like for creating protocols and analyzing data.

Creating Experimental Protocols

Protocols are created in much the same way as its predecessors but there are many more options and the program is more Windows based employing right mouse clicks to access drop down menus and left mouse clicks to select the options.  For example, a right click in the parameter box produces a list of every possible option that can be used to exit a state.

Once the parameter is selected (response, time, state entry, external counter or, with math enabled, a register value), the Criterion value can be entered as a specific value, drawn from a list of values, or again, with math enabled, set from a Register.

Add additional Exit Conditions (Gotos) by right clicking a Goto# box and selecting new.

  • Graphic State 4 continuously monitors the validity of every state.  A red indicator bar indicates an issue with that state (e.g., the state is not targeted or does not target another state) thus preventing the protocol to finish.  Once a state is logically correct, the indicator bar becomes green.
  • Stimuli are activated by simply clicking on the stimulus indictor in the Linc display.  The Display changes indicating the stimulus will be activated in this state.
  • Right click on any of the stimuli and configure the stimulus to flash for some portion of the State duration or for the entire duration of the state each time it takes control during a session.
  • Use Programmable Auxiliary Outputs to change the amplitude of a shock or auditory stimulus, the frequency of a tone stimulus or the intensity of a visual stimulus.
  • Specify “Global” stimuli and/or Global Exit Conditions that are present throughout the session.

In Graphic State 4, flashing stimuli can be carried into subsequent states without interrupting the sequence, something not possible in previous versions of Graphic State.  Flashing stimuli are indicated with a black circle in the middle of the stimulus.

The configuration of the Linc is specified when creating the protocol.  Lincs are configured as:

  • Half Linc per Station:  4 inputs and 18 outputs per station
  • One Linc per Station:  8 inputs and 36 outputs per station
  • Two Lincs per Station:  16 inputs and 72 outputs per station
  • Four Lincs per Station:  32 inputs and 144 outputs per station
  • Insert and delete states as needed.
  • Use the Find State function to go directly to a state by specifying either the state number or state name.
  • Hover the cursor over any state in the state list to see what states target that state.

Regardless of how the Lincs are configured within a protocol, a new feature in Graphic State 4 is the ability to run protocols with different Linc configurations simultaneously.  For example Stations one through four could be running a protocol configured as a Half Linc per Station while stations 5 and 6 are running protocols with a configuration of one Linc per station and stations 7 and 9 might be configured for two Lincs per station.  Access to the additional stimuli and responses are made available from the Protocol Settings in the “Settings” menu.

Running Experiments

After the protocol is created, the Graphic State Run-Time (GSRT) program is used to run the experiment in Graphic State 4.  Like previous versions, every bit of data that occurs during a session is recorded and time stamped.  However in Graphic State 4, the user specifies what data will be displayed during a session.  Indicators are displayed to confirm communication between the computer and the USB interface as well as the status of each Linc.

Indicators are provided to confirm communication between the hardware and computer.  During a session, the stimuli in the display mimic the stimuli being activated in the environment, providing real time feedback as the experiment progresses.

Responses can be made by the experimenter directly from the Run Time screen display by clicking on any of the response indicators on the screen in the Lincs displayed while running an experiment.  These responses are also recorded but are differentiated in the data file from responses made by the subject on the same inputs.  The option to make responses by the experimenter can also be locked out so that no inadvertent responses can be made while a session is running.

Display only the stations that are running.  Select the Habitest Lincs to be displayed during a session so if running 16 stations you can display all 16 stations but if running fewer stations you can reduce the number of Lincs to be displayed during a the session.

  • Specify the time resolution among seven time resolution options from 1 millisecond to 100 milliseconds.
  • Stations can be yoked in any combination.  Select a single master or multiple masters and assign the station(s) to be yoked with each master.
  • Terminate a station at one session, load the same protocol or a new protocol and start a new session without interrupting other stations that are running.

Data Analysis

Graphic State 4 includes a data log viewer and analysis feature used to view/examine the data, produce analyses of the collected data and produce graphic displays of the data recorded.  The data analysis feature is accessed from the Protocol Builder program.  Opening any data file displays the protocol, in the protocol builder, that was used in the experiment to collect the data being reviewed.

  • Use the Log Viewer to display all or selected data types.
  • Use the highlighter to quickly find specific data such as state entries, responses, session pauses, etc.
  • Display the data in Graphic State 3 format.
  • Export the raw data into comma separated values text (csv) files in either Graphic State 3 or Graphic State 4 formats.  Using Graphic State 3 format permits Graphic State 3 users to continue to use any analysis software and macros that were developed to analyze data collected using Graphic State 3.
  • Use the Analysis software to analyze counts, rates, latencies and durations over entire sessions or within specified states.

  • Include multiple analyses in a single analysis set.
  • Save Analysis sets for use on other data files.
  • Calculate mean, median and standard deviation.
  • Export data and paste to Excel or clip board for pasting into documents or other analysis software.
  • Annotate graph and add explanatory notes.
  • Features zoom and auto scale functions.
  • Export graph in bitmap (bmp), encapsulated postscript (eps) or enhanced metafile (emf) formats.