Auditory adaptive staircase with fm sounds

Win10 and PsychPy v3.0

I am trying to create an adaptive staircase. I have sounds of three different difficulties that are modulated in their frequency (they either go up in frequency or down). The task is to determine if the presented sound goes ‘up’ or ‘down’. If a certain number of sounds were determined correctly, the sound difficulty should change to a more difficult one, if a certain number of sounds were determined incorrectly, the difficulty should change to an easier one.
I am using the builder view and have so far been unsuccessful in finding helpful directions to create that kind of adaptive staircase. I don’t really understand the adaptive staircase parameters in the PsychoPy builder and think that they don’t really fit the task I want to create.
Does anyone have experience in creating a task like that or any suggestions on how to accomplish it?

Thank you!

The built-in staircases should certainly handle that. You need to set what the correct answer is on each trial (e.g. using the keyboard) and then the staircase will use that to adjust the “level” on each trial. The level is what you would then use within your trial as the variable to control whatever the thing is that you’re interested in (the frequency, by the sounds of it). Maybe someone with more experience of staircases in general can help you understand the settings.

If you’re using PsychoPy 3.0 I would definitely update it - that’s several years out of date now. :slightly_smiling_face:


Thank you so much for answering!

I have updated my version of PsychoPy but that doesn’t really change my problem as the user interface is still the same.
I have worked with PsychoPy before, I just never had to create an adaptive staircase. I guess, I have to choose the loopType ‘staircase’ but then I don’t really know what the loop properties mean. It asks for specific values and I don’t know how I’m supposed to transfer that to the task I want to create.

Is that type of staircase possible to do with the builder or do I have to use the coder, as well?

I’m not really able to ask anyone to explain the settings. Were I work, they normally use a different program but they want me to do it with PsychoPy. And because I wasn’t really able to find anything online that resembled the staircase I want to do, I am a bit stuck.

I assumed that I would need a conditions file, but with the loopType ‘staircase’ there is now way to reference that conditions file (as far as I can see).

Do you have any other advice on how to do it?


Do I have to use the loopType ‘staircase’ or ‘interleaved staircase’? I thought that the ‘normal’ staircase is enough, but because I can’t use my own conditions file with that, I’m thinking that I might have to use the ‘interleaved staircase’ though I don’t really know why I would have to use that.

If you need more than 1 condition then you would want to interleave your staircases because you don’t want the answers to one condition affecting the level presented in another. The idea with an interleaved staircase is the staircases are independent for your different conditions but the choice of which staircase/condition is used on any one trial is randomised
Information on the various settings of a staircase (which your colleagues should be able to discuss with you because they are common to different software packages) are explained in the documentation here:
and how to use those in a conditions file is explained here:

You can do all of this from Builder. Those settings map directly onto the settings in Builder in the loop dialog.

best wishes

Hello @Anna290,

I came across your post and I am also in the process of building a speech in noise task using the staircase. It is my first time using staircase in PsychoPy.

If it is possible, could you please share your .psyexp file? Thanks in advance