NeuroTracker is a mental training tool that was first developed back in 2009. The company was founded by Jocelyn Faubert, a professor at the University of Montreal. The goal of this training device is to improve cognitive performance and experience real-world benefits in sports and beyond.
The science behind the NeuroTracker is not new. In fact, the training program is backed by over two decades of neuroscience research at Faubert Lab at the University of Montreal. The developers have performed several research studies to monitor the benefits of NeuroTracker and say they plan on continuing to improve the program going forward.
NeuroTracker workouts are very simple. At its core, the program is essentially a video game. It can be used on large screens on the wall or on a laptop. The reason for this is that the developers wanted users to be able to use this program in a variety of situations.
Essentially, NeuroTracker is about pairing mental stimulation with physical actions in a three-dimensional space. When using it there are 3D balls that get displayed on the screen. The virtual objects float around the screen, forcing you to keep track of them. The program includes several "games" with varying objectives.
Regardless of what the goals are of the particular game you're playing, NeuroTracker requires you to react to what you're seeing on the screen in the real world.
One of the features that the developers of NeuroTracker talk about a lot is the fact that you’re not limited to 2D interactions on the screen. The program is actually performed with 3D graphics, which they say challenges your spatial awareness and provides further mental benefits.
Beyond the graphics on the screen, the system is attached to motion tracking sensors or objects that require physical interaction.
For example, it's often used by coaches and physical therapists with a screen and ball. In this instance, the NeuroTracker utilizes a motion sensor to monitor your movements and translate your physical activities into a digital response. Customization is also possible as well, and you can train your brain using gear that's familiar to your sport. For instance, it can be paired with hockey sticks or a soccer ball.
If a large training space is not available, NeuroTracker can be used on a computer as well. The monitor displays the same 3D graphics. However, the physical reaction is based on keystrokes and mouse clicks.
No matter how you decide to use NeuroTracker, the developers say the program should be able to work with your particular needs. It utilizes artificial intelligence to continually adapt to your skill level. There's no need for your coach or therapist to make manual adjustments on your behalf. Instead, the system will make changes based on your performance in the previous round.
For example, say that you start the program off by completing the first exercise without a hitch. NeuroTracker will remember your progress and challenge you more the next time. The three dimensional balls on the screen will move faster and take on more complex paths.
On the other hand, poor performance on a round will result in fewer complications moving forward. The program continues to learn more about you and your capabilities as you play. It's supposed to find that "sweet spot," ensuring that you are receiving an optimal mental workout.
According to the developers of NeuroTracker, this program is capable of giving you a competitive edge on the field. NeuroTracker is heavily advertised towards athletes and sports buffs. But, the company claims that the improvements can make a difference in other areas of your life as well. It's currently being used by many athletes and even the United States military.
The idea that this system is built on is that enhanced cognitive function is directly connected to physical performance. There have been several studies throughout the past few decades to back up that claim. But how exactly does NeuroTracker fit into the equation?
Well, the program is said to lead to improvements in three key areas. These include attention, awareness, and decision-making. The company says that performing the mental exercises for only 18 minutes every day can lead to a noticeable improvement.
When it comes to attention, NeuroTracker is supposed to help you stay focused on your key objectives on the field. The act of tracking the moving objects on screen is said to train your brain into blocking out distractions that you may encounter during a play. Regardless of the sport you play, there's a good chance that your surroundings are riddled with distractions that can throw you off.
Visual distractions are, perhaps, the most important things to avoid during a play. By learning to focus on one single item at a time, you may be able to maximize your potential and identify opportunities during the game. Think of it as developing tunnel vision.
The NeuroTracker training routine might be able to improve your ability to block those distractions. This can help you stay sharp and focused no matter how intense the game is.
The second benefit that the company behind NeuroTracker claims the program can provide is increased awareness. Even to fans, high-action sports can be difficult to follow. With multiple players on the field performing a wide range of maneuvers, it can be hard to interpret what's going on. This gets harder if you're in the thick of it.
The issue that many players have is controlling the connection between what you see and what you do. While your reaction time may seem instant, that's rarely the case. It takes fractions of a second for those synaptic transmissions to happen. Then, you have to process the information.
All of these functions have to occur as fast as possible. Studies have shown that increasing your awareness and mental processing power can make a huge difference in a sports setting.
NeuroTracker is supposed to help you stay aware of what's going on around you, even if you're focused on your objective. The act of tracking those balls on the screen may improve your ability to interpret things faster.
While you must focus on the core objective, you have to be able to identify new opportunities as they arise. According to the company that makes NeuroTracker, the program can help you do just that. It's said to enhance that mental connection for faster reaction times and more awareness.
Finally, there's decision making. Decision making is directly connected to your awareness. After all that information is processed in your brain, you must decide on how your body will react.
Again, all of this takes time to happen. The last thing you want in a fast-paced game is to spend more than a second deciding on the next course of action. NeuroTracker is designed to help you respond quickly and efficiently to the events of the game. That way, you can avoid impulsive moves and choose the correct maneuver the first time.
Now that you have a good understanding of NeuroTracker, it's time to weigh the pros and cons.
One of the advantages is that it can be used on any computer. This means you can use it at home for some exercises (as long as you have the right glasses).
However, there are some downsides to NeuroTracker that you should be aware of before you commit.
The first is there's a lack of body engagement with the exercises. Integrating full-body movement (or “functional movement”) adds unique benefits in cognitive and visual training. This is because it requires more coordination between different areas of the brain that involve motor skills.
Another thing to be aware of is that NeuroTracker cannot be easily added to a standard training regimen. By nature, it has to be in a fixed "lab" setting. This means athletes need to take additional time out of their routines to utilize it.
Lastly, the level of flexibility and variation within the exercises are rather limited. For the most part, you're looking at static drills that can't change what cognition is being trained. The downside of this is you can't customize the exercises based on a particular sport. You can adjust the difficulty, but that's about it.
If portability and the option to customize your drills based on sport is something you value, we recommend giving Reflexion a shot. Get in touch with us and we'll be glad to answer any questions you might have.