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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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)
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’
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.
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.
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).
NeuroTracker Study on Biological Motion Perception
‘Training 3D-MOT improves biological motion perception in aging:
evidence for transferability of training’
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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).