Christie Lab research leads to Neurotracker program at Victoria Brain Injury Society

When the Christie Lab began collaborating with the Victoria Brain Injury Society (VBIS) in 2020, both parties agreed they wanted the partnership to result in more than just research data. They wanted to see real-world changes that improved the lives of adults with brain injuries.

They realized that goal in September 2022 when the VBIS launched its Train Your Brain (TYB) program. This free, permanent program gives clients access to a cognitive training tool called Neurotracker, which supports and improves cognition and daily life functions in those with brain injuries.

Undergraduate student Jamie Morrison (Christie Lab) is studying the new program to see how fits within VBIS, how it impacts the well-being of clients, and how to best adapt the program moving forward.


The idea behind TYB began with a 2021 patient-oriented research project lead by PhD candidate Taylor Snowden-Richardson (Christie Lab). Her study found that participating in NeuroTracker training sessions twice a week for five weeks reduced the overall number and severity symptoms related to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Participants also saw improved verbal memory and working memory performance on neuropsychological tests.

NeuroTracker is a video game—like tool in which participants visually track multiple moving 3D objects on a screen. Then, depending on how well a participant follows the objects, the software will either speed up or slow down the objects for the next round. “This allows NeuroTracker to adapt to where the individual is at, yet continually be at a level that is challenging their brain,” explains Jamie. No matter the level of the training session, the program simultaneously engage all lobes of the brain, which strengthens the connections between various parts of the brain and can improve attention, memory, and other executive brain functions.

“The results of the research project done by Taylor Snowden-Richardson were incredible, and we knew that VBIS needed to be able to continue offering the program to our clients on an ongoing basis,” says Pam Prewett, Executive Director of VBIS.

“The most exciting thing about the program is hearing clients who are part of the program say what a difference Train Your Brain has made in their lives, whether it’s decreased fatigue and sleep improvements or feeling calmer following a session. Knowing that Train Your Brain is making a positive improvement in the lives of brain injury survivors is incredibly gratifying and motivates us to continue to offer the program.”

Jamie, who also works at VBIS, is studying the TYB program using a grant from the Branch Out Neurological Foundation that she received in October 2022. Her research will evaluate client outcomes by having study participants complete standardized symptom assessments before, after, and during their training program. Participants will attend 45-minute in-person TYB sessions either once or twice a week for five weeks.

The study will also look at the program implementation, including its acceptability, appropriateness, feasibility, adoption, fidelity, cost, penetration, and sustainability. This research will be based on standardized questionnaires, satisfaction surveys, and semi-structured interviews with participants, volunteers, and VBIS staff.

“I’m interested in seeing where this program could go,” Jamie says. She adds that VBIS hopes to make TYB more accessible with an online version of NeuroTracker, as well as expand the program to community youth with concussions and brain injuries.

“We just want to say a huge thank you to the Christie Lab for making this program possible and allowing us to provide this technology to our clients,” she says. “The continual support and collaboration between the Christie lab and VBIS has had a direct positive impact on our clients.”

Dr. Christie has only high praise for VBIS and the patient partners helping his lab better understand brain injuries so it can develop programs like TYB. “Every interaction with a VBIS client is an education for us as no two individuals are alike. More importantly, they have all been so gracious in helping us understand what does and doesn’t work. This is truly a story of how our VBIS partners have helped create a successful translational research enterprise that I think will continue to grow.”


[Photo: Jordyn Tattersall, former Special Projects Coordinator at VBIS, demonstrates the Neurotracker. Photo courtesy of Pam Prewett.]