A critical systematic review of the Neurotracker perceptual-cognitive training tool

Christian Vater, Rob Gray, Alex O. Holcombe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

In this systematic review, we evaluate the scientific evidence behind “Neurotracker,” one of the most popular perceptual-cognitive training tools in sports. The tool, which is also used in rehabilitation and aging research to examine cognitive abilities, uses a 3D multiple object-tracking (MOT) task. In this review, we examine Neurotracker from both a sport science and a basic science perspective. We first summarize the sport science debate regarding the value of general cognitive skill training, based on tools such as Neurotracker, versus sport-specific skill training. We then consider the several hundred MOT publications in cognitive and vision science from the last 30 years that have investigated cognitive functions and object tracking processes. This literature suggests that the abilities underlying object tracking are not those advertised by the Neurotracker manufacturers. With a systematic literature search, we scrutinize the evidence for whether general cognitive skills can be tested and trained with Neurotracker and whether these trained skills transfer to other domains. The literature has major limitations, for example a total absence of preregistered studies, which makes the evidence for improvements for working memory and sustained attention very weak. For other skills as well, the effects are mixed. Only three studies investigated far transfer to ecologically valid tasks, two of which did not find any effect. We provide recommendations for future Neurotracker research to improve the evidence base and for making better use of sport and basic science findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Intervention
  • Sport
  • Transfer
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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