NeuroTracker Published Studies & ResearchEvidence of Relevance in Measurement, Learning and Transfer for Human Performance and Cognitive Impairments

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NeuroTracker  evolved  out  of  a  pure  science  approach  through  years  of  research  at  Prof.  Faubert’s  Visual  Psychophysics  & Perception Laboratory.  Designed to uniquely measure and enhance high-level cognitive function, it has become established as a valuable  research  tool  for  understanding  human  performance.  The  not-for-profit  CogniSens  Applied  Research  Centre  (ARC) supports  an  increasing  number  of  NeuroTracker  research  projects  across  a  variety  of  scientific  disciplines.  To date,  published studies have discovered important neuroscience findings in in the following areas.

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NeuroTracker  provides  objective  cognitive  metrics  on  brain  functions  fundamental  to  human performance,  and  also  relevant  in  cognitive  conditions.  High-level  mental  processing  is  required to  perform  NeuroTracker  at  increasing  speed  thresholds,  as  such,  measures  have  been  found  to differentiate  elite  performers  from  amateur,  reveal  characteristics  of  brain  development  with age,  identify  impairment  with  healthy  aging  or  learning  related  disorders,  and  possibly  to  help  to

detect  functional-related  brain  damage,  such  as  with  concussions,  and  reveal  non-contact  sports injury  risks.

image.pngLearning

NeuroTracker is a simple training exercise to  do, with virtually no  technique  or  practice  required  within the  task  itself.  However,  performing  NeuroTracker  at  speed  thresholds  evokes  powerful  responses  in brain  activity,  becoming  both  a  stimulant  of  neuroplasticity,  and  a  valuable  reference  of  it.  Superior NeuroTracker  learning  rates  have  been  found  to  be  a  defining  characteristic  of  elite  athletes,  yet  have also  been  found  to  be  still  strong  in  cognitive  conditions  such  as  aging  and  learning  disorders  where learning  capacities  are  expected  to  be  diminished.  Mapping  of  neuroelectric  brain  function  suggests neuroplasticity  levels may be increased with NeuroTracking.

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Ultimately,  it’s  measureable  improvement  in  real  world  abilities  that  are  sought  after,  known  to be difficult to attain with contemporary interventions.  Near transfer has been demonstrated with NeuroTracker  training,  revealing  significant  improvements  with  different  populations  in  many high-level  cognitive  faculties,  such  as  executive  function  and  working  memory.  These  are  known to  be  essential  to  mental  performance,  and  also  to  be  critically  impaired  across  a  wide  range  of cognitive  related  conditions.  Gains  in  abilities  to  read  and  interpret  human  body  motion  have been shown, and far transfer has been observed in outcomes of sports competitions. 

NeuroTracker Study on Enhancing Cognitive Function

‘Enhancing Cognitive Function Using Perceptual-Cognitive Training’

Clinical EEG and Neuroscience 1–11, 2016, DOI: 10.1177/1550059414563746

Aim

To examine the effects of NeuroTracker training on standardised measures of  attention, working memory, and visual  information  processing  speed  using  standardized  neuropsychological  tests.  Additionally  to  measure changes in brain state  using functional  brain imaging.

Method

20  university-aged  students  were  recruited  and  divided  into  an  NT  training  group  (30  sessions  of NeuroTracker)  and  a  non-active  control  group.  Cognitive  functions  were  assessed  using  standardized neuropsychological  tests  (IVA+Plus,  WAIS-III,  D-KEFS),  and  correlates  of  brain  functions  were  assessed  using quantitative  electroencephalography  (qEEG). 

Findings

The  trained  group  showed  strong  and  consistent  improvements  in  NeuroTracker  speed  thresholds  throughout the  training  period.  The  NT  group  demonstrated  significantly  higher  scores  on  the  IVA+Plus  Auditory,  WAIS Symbol  Search,  WAIS  Code,  WAIS  Block  Design,  WAIS  Letter-Number  Sequence,  d2  Test  of  Attention,  and  DKEFS Color Naming, Inhibition  and Inhibition/Switching  subtests  (P < .01).

For  qEEG  measures  the  NT  group  demonstrated  significant  relative  power  increases  in  a  range  of  frequencies within  the  beta  bandwidth,  with  both  eyes  open  and  closed  resting  states.  These  changes  were  observed across  frontal  regions  of  the  brain  (executive  function)  and  represented  increases  in  brain  wave  speed

associated  with heightened brain activity  and neuroplasticity.

Overall  results  indicated that  NeuroTracker training can  enhance  attention,  information  processing  speed, and working memory,  and also lead to positive  changes in neuroelectric  brain function.

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NeuroTracker Study on Transferability to Soccer Performance

3D-Multiple Object Tracking task performance 

improves passing decision-making accuracy in soccer players’

Psychology of Sport & Exercise, Vol. 22, 1-9, DOI:10.1016/j.psychsport.2016 

Aim

Attention and concentration are crucial abilities that affect the decision-making of athletes; e.g. during a soccer action,  an  athlete  has  to  divide  attention  on  the  field  (teammates,  opponents,  ball),  to  use  selective  attention (which  player  to  give  the  ball  to)  and  to  focus  attention  (staring  at  the  net  to  score).  To  this  purpose,  many benefits  may  arise  from  the  high-level  NeuroTracker  conditioning technique  as  it  stimulates  active  processing of  dynamic  visual  information  and  trains  perceptual-cognitive  functions  of  athletes.  In  particular,  it  targets selective,  dynamic  and sustained  attention,  as well as working memory.

Methodimage.png

23 university  soccer  players participated  in the study and were randomly  allocated  to three different groups. Experimental  group: performed 30 NeuroTracker Core sessions  over a 5 week period Active control  group: performed 30 3D soccer  videos  sessions  over 5 week period Passive  control  group: No particular training activity  over a 5 week period

Players’  decision-making  was  evaluated  during  standardized  small  sided  games  before  and  after  the  training period. Decision-making of soccer players was objectively analysed through video recordings of the small sided games  by  a  soccer  coach  blinded  to  the  experimental  protocol  and  using  a  standardized  coding  criteria.

Subjective  decision-making  accuracy  was  directly  evaluated  from  players’  confidence  levels  in  decision-making promptly  after the games using a Visual Analog Scale (Sport Performance  Scale)

image.pngFindings

Only  the  NeuroTracker  trained  group  showed  an  increase  (15%)  in passing  decision  making  on  the  field  after  the  training.  Moreover, players’  subjective  decision-making  assessment  was  quantitatively proportional  to  the  improvement  in  decision-making  accuracy  rated during video analysis for the NeuroTracker trained group. 

These  results  seem  to  demonstrate  that  passing  decision-making accuracy  improvement  in  the  trained  group  represents  a  meaningful training  effect.  For  the  first  time,  this  study  demonstrates  a perceptual-cognitive  transfer  from  the  laboratory  to  the  field following  a non-sport  specific  perceptual-cognitive  training program.





NeuroTracker Study on Working Memory Span

3D Multiple Object Tracking Boosts Working Memory Span:

Implications for Cognitive Training in Military Populations’

Aim

Working  Memory  (WM)  capacity  has  been  linked  to  performance  on  a  wide  range  of  elementary  and  higher order  cognitive  tasks.  Due  to  evidence  suggesting  that  NeuroTracker  speed  thresholds  are  an  indicator  of  the quality  of  high-level  brain  function,  and  because  it  is  an  adaptive  task,  the  researchers  selected  NeuroTracker to investigate whether training could improve WM capacities.  A further reason was to test a training approach with short intervention  times  for practical military  implementations  for the Canadian Armed Forces.

Method

41  soldiers  in the  Canadian  Armed  Forces  volunteered  for  the study.  First  they were  tested on three WM span tasks:  word  (verbal)  span,  matrix  span,  and  visual  span,  establishing  a  baseline  measure  for  each  test.

Participants  were then distributed evenly into 3 groups based on demographic  and cognitive  factors,

Experimental group: performed 10 NeuroTracker Core sessions  over a 2 week period

Active control group: performed an adaptive dual n-back task over a 2 week period

Passive control group: No activity  over a 2 week period

At the end of the two weeks, the three WM span tests  were retaken.

Findings

For  the  NeuroTracker  group,  speeds  thresholds  increased  considerably  over  the  10  sessions,  and  training resulted  in  a  significant  pre-post  increase  in  word  span,  matrix  span,  and  visual  span,  with  medium  to  large effect  sizes.  In  contrast,  for  the  active  control,  group  training  did  not  alter  any  of  the  WM  span  measures.

Similarly,  WM span measures did not alter for the passive  control  group.

The  researchers concluded that a short amount of NeuroTracker training can benefit WM capacity in a military sample.  Additionally,  the  consistent  NeuroTracker  improvements  across  each  type  of  WM  span  reflect  a primarily domain-general  construct  (a generality of WM capacity).

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NeuroTracker Study on Biological Motion Perception

Training 3D-MOT improves biological motion perception in aging: 

evidence for transferability of training’

NeuroReport 23:469-473 

Aim

To investigate if age related cognitive decline in functional capacities can be reversed with a short cognitive intervention (NeuroTracker training). Biological Motion Perception (BMP) involves complex interpretations of human-based movement and body language, essential for interpreting social stimuli and managing complex scenes such as in crowds or sports activities. Young adults cannot read BMP at less than 1 meter, whereas with healthy older people it is typically lost at 4m (a critical risk for collision avoidance). This research focused on testing if the capacities of young adults could be regained.

Method

41 older adults with mean age of 68yrs old were divided into trained, active control (placebo), and passive control (no training) groups. They were measured on a standardised BMP post training, which consisted of 15 NeuroTracker sessions distributed over 5 weeks.

Findings

Only the NeuroTracker trained group showed transfer to BMP, who demonstrated substantial improvements in processing BMP at 4m. The conclusion was a clear and positive transfer of perceptual-cognitive training onto a socially relevant ability in the elderly.

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NeuroTracker Study at the Catalan High Performance Centre

‘Perceptual-cognitive Training with the NeuroTracker 3D-MOT to Improve Performance in Three Different Sports’ 

Journal: Educació Física i Esports (Spain) 2015, núm. 119, 1r trimestre  (gener-març), p. 97-108 ISSN-0214-8757

Aim

This study analysed the effectiveness of NeuroTracker to improve sports performance related measures across 37 elite athletes, including water polo (13), taekwondo (12) and tennis athletes (12), with a total of 20 athletes rigorously  completing  all assessment  protocols. 

Methodimage.png

26 NeuroTracker sessions  completed  with these difficulty progressions: 14 seated  6 standing  up   6 in an integrated  balancing position Large gains in visual tracking speeds occurred across  the groups.

Assessments

Performance assessments involved both coaches and athletes using a visual analogical scaled questionnaire to objectively  assess  the  athletes’  visual  concentration,  perception  speed  and  peripheral  vision  as  references  to on-going  levels  of  performance.  These  assessments  took  place  frequently  throughout  the  NeuroTracker

training  program,  including  pre  and  post  training.  Visual  assessments  were  measured  pre  and  post NeuroTracking training and included a range of standardized optometric  tests: 

•Static and dynamic visual acuity (Palomar disk)

•Visual contrast sensitivity  (personal clinic software FSC)

•Saccadic fixations  near/far  (Les Taules de Hart)

•Response-time to peripheral stimulus  (AcuVision 1000,  International AcuVision Systems  Intl.)

•Stereopsis  (Titmus-Wirt test at 40cm) 

•Selective focused attention  (d2 test of attention)

Findings

The  training  program  led  to  a  statistically  significant  pre-post  improvement  in  most  visual  skills:  static  visual acuity,  stereopsis,  spatial  contrast  sensitivity,  saccadic  ocular  movements,  selective  attention  on  the  d2  test.

No  improvement  was  found  on  reaction  time  to  a  peripheral  stimulus  or  dynamic  visual  acuity.  Transfer  to sports  performance  was  found  through  both  coach  and  athlete  subjective  assessments  with  significant improvements  across  ‘Concentration’,  ‘Perception  speed’,  ‘Peripheral  vision’.  Athletes  tended  to  rate  their performance  higher than coaches,  but their ratings followed  the same progression  (significant  correlation).

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