Making things dynamic

What is dynamic?

In PsychoPy everything is organised in reference to time

  • We don’t have “slides” that simply follow each other like in some packages

  • Things overlap in time

  • Things can change their attributes in time

Why is that useful?

You could use this, for instance, to:

  • gradually reveal an object

  • make an object move to make the task harder

  • make an object more interesting for participants (e.g. developmental)

Code as arguments

Most dialog entries have the option to take raw Python code if you start your entry with $ (or have that by default).

You can use this as more than a variable from your conditions file e.g.:

  • set stimulus position to travel in a circle with $( sin(t*2*pi), cos(t*2*pi) ) and set this to update every frame

NB. If you actually need a dollar symbol to be in your text, do one of:
  • $”You won $5” [include quotes]

  • You won \$5

$( sin(t*2*pi), cos(t*2*pi) )

If you want to find out what “t” is you can look “under the hood” by compiling a python script


Let’s create a task where text is gradually revealed.

Think of a Routine like this:


The text object could be any long piece of text. You might need to make sure the wrap length is set to be the full width of the screen to fit on one line.


Your mask is a square that moves (note the size and the pos settings).

Create a pulsating heart

Download an image of a “love” heart, preferably one with a transparent background.

Let’s put that into a PsychoPy experiment and set its size to vary on every frame.


Equation for a pulse

Getting the maths to look right here is going to be the key.

It’s something based on a sinusoid. Recall that sin(t) varies smoothly between -1 and 1:

  • sin(t) : too small

  • 50*sin(t) : big enough (50 pixels) but it goes negative

  • 100+50*sin(t) : varying nicely between 50 and 150 pixels

That’s a good start. If we want to make it more pulse-like we need to raise the value to a power before scaling it up:

  • 100+50*sin(t)**4

More ideas and working code

Have a play with dynamically changing the various properties of a text stimulus:

  1. Colour

  2. Orientation

  3. Size

For more inspiration look in the folder::


You’ll find working examples of a range of these stimulus setups

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