“When I came across BrainHQ, I knew it could dramatically change public safety for the better.”

Thor Eells

Executive Director, NTOA

“The brain is an inherent optimizer looking for minimal effort and maximum output.  The brain can’t grow through ease; it must be challenged.” 

Clint Bruce


The NTOA has partnered with BrainHQ from Posit Science to offer a unique, one-of-a-kind program that impacts all branches of public safety. Through dozens of online exercises created by Neuroscientists, cognitive abilities are enhanced and maximize personal performance. Studies show that law enforcement officers increase recognition of environmental conditions, awareness, and the speed of decision-making. Officers gain better impulse control and de-escalation capabilities, reduced use of force, traffic collisions, and citizen complaints. Ultimately, agencies maximize risk mitigation and reduce liability through the many benefits of brain science exercises.

This program is a game changer, used prolifically by the U.S. Military Special Operations Command and professional and Olympic athletes. BrainHQ is the result of years of effort by leading scientists worldwide, who have given their input and energy to create a distinctive, rigorous approach to brain training. The only program supported by over 200 scientific studies, the BrainHQ program should be a part of any wellness and resiliency plan. Exercises from BrainHQ have proven to change cognitive function. These changes include better memory, faster processing, and sharper attention—but they also include more confidence, safer driving, happier mood, better health outcomes, and other benefits for everyday life. Offered to public safety only through the NTOA, this program is the most cost-effective system available that provides proven results unmatched by any other public safety training. BrainHQ offers personal and professional benefits and has proven to reduce cognitive decline and help offset conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

Premier athletic performance organizations like Tom Brady’s TB12, NICoE, Microgate, and Bigger-Faster-Stronger use BrainHQ. https://www.brainhq.com/partners/brainhq-for-sports/

You may view a complete list of the military units using BrainHQ at https://www.brainhq.com/partners/brainhq-for-the-military/military-sites/

Check out our upcoming webinar on June 2, 2023!

Why Use BrainHQ?

What makes BrainHQ unique is the science. BrainHQ builds on the science of brain plasticity – the brain’s ability to change chemically, structurally, and functionally in response to sensory and other inputs. BrainHQ co-founder Dr. Michael Merzenich won the top honor in Neuroscience (the Kavli Prize) for discovering that the brain remains plastic throughout life.

The world’s leading experts designed BrainHQ to harness that natural plasticity to make the brain perform better. Hundreds of university-based scientists came together to design, test, refine, and validate the exercises and assessments in BrainHQ.

A recent independent review of brain training apps found that most had no studies showing they worked, and only BrainHQ had multiple high-quality studies. More than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles about the wide range of benefits exist.

BrainHQ exercises fall into six categories: Attention, Memory, Brain Speed, Intelligence, People Skills, and Navigation. Some exercises challenge your skills and directly tie to improving brain health. Other exercises challenge you to improve basic sensory neuropathways, such as differentiating sounds or spotting objects quickly on the screen.   Our eyes, ears, and other sensory organs constantly send information to the brain. Our brains use this information to construct our experiences and memories, from the magnificent to the mundane.

BrainHQ Core Training for Law Enforcement

BrainHQ offers dozens of computerized exercises and regimens targeting almost every major brain system.

Training for law enforcement starts with six exercises that target the speed and accuracy of cognitive processing for faster and better decision-making, cognitive control over impulses to contribute to de-escalation, and emotional expression recognition to help address unconscious bias. These factors are the core training emphasized in a standard 10-week law enforcement program, aiming at better decision-making under high stress. Once completed, the intelligent algorithms will begin integrating the other twenty-three exercises based on the individual’s needs for the remainder of the year.

BrainHQ exercises quickly and continuously personalize to each user (using smart algorithms to adjust stimuli based on your prior performance data). The exercises get harder when you are having a good day — and ease off when you are having a bad day — to keep pushing you through your current performance threshold.

“I can see more, I see things more accurately, and I make better decisions… faster.”

NFL Quarterback Tom Brady

Overview Videos

How Will Users Benefit?

Cognitive Performance. BrainHQ exercises effectively improve workplace performance and are embraced by thought leaders focused on improving system-wide peak performance in areas where split seconds can be decisive, including policing, sports, and the military.

After all, the brain controls the split-second decisions essential to winning in high-stakes, high-pressure situations. The brain even controls the movements of the body to execute those decisions.

Hundreds of published studies of BrainHQ exercises across varied populations show many benefits. That’s why BrainHQ is used by groups such as the U.S. Special Operations Command for training operators in special forces, Major League Baseball for measuring prospects at its annual combine, the National Tactical Officers Association for training SWAT teams and law enforcement officers, as well as by leading medical centers and health plans.

Speed and Accuracy. Brain speed and accuracy are central to good outcomes in high-pressure situations. When an officer encounters potential threats, the officer typically must go through several split-second steps engaging both the mind and the body. The officer can make better decisions faster through training exercises that improve processing speed and accuracy.

Inhibitory control. The brain is the “captain of your ship.” It exercises executive control over your actions, even when making seemingly instinctual reactions. Specific BrainHQ exercises train the brain to suppress distraction better and exert greater control over impulses. In law enforcement, as in many high-pressure fields, thoughtfully reacting while controlling impulses can be critically important.

Emotional recognition A substantial body of scientific literature on emotional expression recognition indicates that we tend to read the facial expressions of our own tribe more quickly and accurately than other tribes. So, for example, at an initial encounter, a look of “surprise” is not mistaken for “anger.” Training with specialized exercises can improve social cognition and the ability to read facial expressions quickly and accurately.

Cognitive Abilities. A wide range of cognitive abilities can play a critical role across virtually all law enforcement activities, including;

Multiple Object Tracking
Peripheral Vision
Social Cognition
Reaction Time
Speed of Processing                  Suppression of Distraction
Visual Acuity
Visual Search
Useful Field of View

Better Focus. Your ability to focus on what matters and, equally important, to ignore what doesn’t is a critical aspect of safe policing. The ability to focus on a conversation (while filtering out distracting background noise) or the visual world around you to quickly spot what you need and dismiss what you don’t is essential in public safety. Multiple scientific papers have shown that training with BrainHQ can improve attention by helping you focus and by helping you filter out what doesn’t matter. Moreover, focusing your attention helps your brain pump chemicals that enhance learning and memory.

Improved Memory. Of all cognitive abilities, memory is crucial to those in public safety. Maintaining a sharp, effective memory makes people more confident, while having memory lapses can leave them feeling insecure. Over a dozen scientific studies across many populations prepared by highly regarded researchers at respected universities have shown that BrainHQ exercises can substantially impact memory performance.

Personal Benefits. In addition to BrainHQ training helping officers perform better at work, studies have shown many benefits in user’s daily lives, including gains in standard measures of cognition (e.g., speed, attention, memory, decision-making), standard measures of quality of life (e.g., depression, anxiety, confidence, health-related quality of life), and in real-world activities (e.g., balance, gait, driving, everyday tasks).

Just as physical conditioning helps the body become more resilient, cognitive activity helps the brain become more resilient. For example, the ACTIVE Study tracked 2800 older adults for ten years and found that those who engaged in BrainHQ training for just 18 hours lowered their incidence of dementia by more than 40%, compared to a control group.

BrainHQ is a great way to measure and improve your cognitive performance. BrainHQ takes a baseline on each exercise and continuously monitors progress over time. As with physical exercise, more is generally better, but unlike physical exercise, these brain exercises can drive significant improvement in a modest amount of time.   Explore these benefits and the science behind them at the BrainHQ website. https://www.brainhq.com/world-class-science/the-proven-benefits-of-brainhq/

“If you want to live a long, healthy life, you have to sustain basic brain health,”

Kavli Award Winner, Dr. Michael Merzenich

How Do I Start?

The NTOA is the sole provider of the BrainHQ public safety curriculum. The program costs $10 per month/person, billed annually for $120. This subscription includes a dedicated toll-free phone number for subscription support and dedicated Brain Coaches to assist with user development. The subscription combination of coaching support, specialized curriculum, and dedicated support typically costs $25 per month or $300 per year.

Organizations looking to implement the program across their agency or within designated teams should complete the contact information sheet, and a program manager will contact you. The NTOA can provide informative program overviews for department leadership.

REGISTER FOR BRAINHQ (Individuals Only) 

Agency Group Quote Requests

(Agencies using BrainHQ receive the added benefit of administrative rights to follow subscribers’ program usage, performance, and coaching on organizational performance)

Specialized Curriculum for Public Safety

Double Decision: Trains visual speed, acuity, divided attention, distractor suppression, working memory, useful field of view

Target tracker: Trains multiple object tracking, visual speed, distractor suppression, working memory, useful field of view

Mind Bender: Trains speed, attention, inhibitory control, rapid decision-making, set-shifting, executive function

Visual Sweeps: Trains visual speed, visual acuity, visual tracking, motion detection, and the edges of movement


Freeze Frame: Trains visual speed,  acuity, tonic alertness, phasic alertness, inhibitory control, threat vs. non-threat recognition

Face to Face: Trains facial recognition, emotional recognition, visual speed, visual acuity, addressing unconscious bias

Program Overview with exercise examples, personal trainer, and measuring performance.

Key Studies for Informed Responders

“More than 200 objective, peer-reviewed research articles are published in research and medical journals that document the resiliency and wellness benefits of BrainHQ exercises.  The NTOA welcomes you to research topics of your interest. “

Complete List of Published Studies

The ACTIVE study is the most extensive study on cognitive training ever performed.

Conducted by researchers from six universities, including Johns Hopkins, Penn State, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the study proved that healthy adults 65 and older could make significant cognitive gains with the right brain-training programs and practice – and that those gains are seen in real-world measures like independent living skills and driving safety.

It also demonstrated that brain training in BrainHQ drives improvement in more ways than other types of cognitive exercise. But training your brain isn’t just about making improvements to it. “It’s also about improving how your brain controls other parts of your body,” notes Dr. Merzenich. Researchers are looking into the effects of brain exercises on everything from balance to mental health.

Active Study

The IMPACT study was the first large-scale clinical trial to examine whether a specially designed brain-training program significantly improved adult cognitive abilities. Scientists from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Southern California proved that people could gain memory if they do the right kind of scientifically designed cognitive exercises.

Impact Study

Unpublished Field Trials in Law Enforcement:

Sharp Mind LLC, Dr. Gary Lambert

Trial Design. 133 officers trained for ~12 hours. Exercise gains were 155%-467%. Their stats on measures already collected by the department were compared, as a group, before and after training. Improvements in real-world measurements were as follows:

73% reduction in collisions, 46% reduction in Use of Force, 40% reduction in complaints, and 31% reduction in on-the-job injuries. 

Source: American Journal of Psychology, Summer Issue 2019, Hamilton et al.

Trial Design:  Shooting Range, Threat v Non-Threat Targets, Split-second Presentation, and Multiple Moving Objects. Pre-training baseline in live fire, shoot/don’t shoot of split-second non-sequential targets is compared to post-training and between groups.  

Results:  Large gains at all exercises. The intervention group became significantly more accurate at shooting than the control group, with a large effect size indicating a 29% overall score gain over the control group. The most common error is shooting unarmed targets. The intervention group had a significant reduction in shooting unarmed targets, with approximately a 60% reduction from their initial baseline performance.   The author stated, “In conclusion, the current study demonstrated that cognitive training can improve shooting performance under the most realistic circumstances ethically possible.”

Shoot and Don’t Shoot Study