Bringing Researchers and XR Creators Together

Past Brain Jams

2021 Jam

Following a break in 2020, the 2021 XR Brain Jam took place online. 83 Jammers in 13 countries joined together to create 13 projects tackling topics such as medication, misinformation, body language, anxiety, and food education. For the first time all projects were uploaded to and made available to the public.

Sample 2021 Projects
Special Recognition Product Potential Digital Laurels
GLocal Garden

Climate change is a global crisis that is upsetting all aspects of our lives. The scientific literature consistently points to the following causes:
– Disconnection from the natural environment
– Decreased capacity to care for each other (empathy)
– Diminished sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves (sense of community)

This team built a community garden for young people to help them learn about nature, climate change and other cultures by cultivating a community garden.


BreathSync is a seated VR biofeedback experience that teaches, visualizes, and encourages deep belly breathing to promote mindfulness​ and​ reduce stress. This team tackled the problem of stress by educating players about the role of deep breathing in stress reduction. Most people are “chest breathers,” which can be indicative of and contribute to heightened anxiety and stress responses (sympathetic nervous system response, aka ‘fight/flight’). Many people are unaware of the benefits of deep breathing or belly breathing, which can activate the relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system response). 

XR Brain Jam is an (auto)catalytic meeting of the minds! Folx get to collide in a wonderful container full of cross-pollination, alchemy, and magic to create playful experiences that move us all toward (b)righter futures

— Leon Wang 王立中, 2021 Jam Attendee

PowrPsrVR is a self-positivity VR experience to increase of positive emotions and feeling of powerfulness in adolescents through the adoption of expansive bodily postures called power poses. Embodiment interventions are nonverbal experiential techniques that use the posture and movement of the body as a way to generate positive emotions. Power posing is a simple and effective manipulation that increases positive emotions and reduces negative body image.  The manipulation is simple, short, and ideal for everyday practice and can help adolescents feel more powerful and positive about their bodies. 

"If you're at all interested in the power of interactive entertainment and software that can help the world or solve problems, big or small, the XR Brain Jam is such an incredible experience to meet a diverse set of people and learn to create something new!"

— Aylish T, 2021 Jam Attendee
Café SereniTEA

Café SereniTea is a seated VR experience for Oculus Quest tackling social anxiety and panic disorders. Social anxiety is highly prevalent in the general population and is resurgent with the recent return from isolation due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. Many people may need to learn skills to manage stressful environments and may not have professional support.
The problems the team tackled were are: How do environments influence the onset and severity of a panic attack? How can those suffering from panic attacks mitigate their symptoms? How can peers recognize attacks and assist their friends in de-escalating a panic attack by removing stressors?

The User begins with the POV of someone experiencing a panic attack who then receives coaching on how to cope with their symptoms through exercises until they can seek a safer space. Next, the POV switches to a friend witnessing the first person’s distress who then receives coaching on how to neutralize environmental stressors for their friend. 

2019 Jam

In 2019, the Brain Jam expanded to invite researchers from fields beyond neuroscience. Topics teams tackled included teen anxiety, grief, physics education, teen anxiety, and mosquito control. 9 teams participated, working with with  a variety of VR and XR platforms.

Sample 2019 Projects
Good Vibrations

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurogenerative disorder impacting 10M people. Patients with the disease have a ~5Hz tremor in their extremities making simple activities challenging. This team created a VR experience that allows patients to enter a new reality where they are asymptomatic, free of debilitating tremors by sampling tremor trajectory and canceling their velocity. The experience also can be flipped to give caregivers direct insight to the life of patients. 

The End

The End is intended to be a safe, educational XR experience for users experiencing grief as a result of bereavement, or loss of a loved one. Based on literature on grief and bereavement, this game’s primary goal is to aid users in the process of grief–by helping people work through different “stages” of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance–Kübler-Ross model) non-sequentially, or sparking a conversation between individuals experiencing grief, loved ones, and mental health experts.


The rapid increase in anxiety among teens requires innovations in intervention approaches, especially in schools where support for teens experiencing anxiety may be limited. There’s intriguing evidence that the use of ASMR might provide some of the physiological and affective benefits of mindfulness, and ASMR videos are a hugely popular genre on YouTube.  This team paired developers with researchers from the Play4REAL Lab at Yale and the VR Health Institute to explore how VR-based ASMR stimuli might provide a new approach for on-demand interventions for adolescents experiencing anxiety. 

"The XR Brain Jam is a fascinating experience that pushes the collaborative frontiers of scientific research and XR. New ideas and applications really do emerge."

— Olivia Goldman, 2019 Jam Attendee
Mosquitoes Vs Humans

MOSQUITOES VS. HUMANS is a multiplayer VR game that aims to highlights that mosquitoes are the most fatal animal in the world (killing almost a million people per year) and educate people on prevention methods that can save lives. The guest plays as either a NJ mosquito control commissioner whose job is to employ mosquito prevention measures and keep the citizens of New Jersey safe or a mosquito, hungry for mosquito commissioner blood.

Brain Relay

Learning about the human brain is traditionally based on passive classroom instruction, 2D materials to convey 3D relationships, and a separation between structure and function. Here we leverage cooperative VR to provide an active experience in which a group of students learn to relay sensory signals (i.e. spikes) along the appropriate neural pathways. This experience leverages our inate ability for navigation-based learning and acitive exploration to enhance learning outcomes.

The XR Brain Jam was an inspiring, pure delight. This jam is for anyone who wants to make XR experiences that push against the norm and have the potential to help others. You get to work with professionals from fields of which you don't normally have access.

— Rob Canciello, 2019 Jam Attendee
2018 Jam

In 2018, the Brain Jam focused on neuroscience research and expanded from just VR to include other XR technologies. A total of 4 different XR technology platforms were used across eight teams.

Sample 2018 Projects

Developers from NY-based Mokuni collaborated with a neuroscientist from the Neurosensory Engineering Lab at New York Medical College to create a prototype interactive experience for diagnostic and therapy applications related to traumatic brain injuries. This project combined a VR headset with EEG hardware.

Head On

Developers from Target,, and The Glimpse Group collaborated with a neuroscientist from the University of Pittsburgh to tackle to problem of improving eye-contact in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This project used AR technologies on mobile devices.

"Paired up with an amazing team of developers, I was able to take research concepts of mine and co-create a therapeutic VR game. Being able to create an application (within just two days) that could possibly help patients just blew my mind. I'd encourage any fun-loving researcher who cares about the future of science and medicine to participate in the next XR Brain Jam."

— Jonathan Fisher, 2018 Jam Attendee
Bent Spoon

Developers from Ubisoft and Solidworks collaborated with NeoroStorm Studios to create a proof-of-concept for brainwave-based input into digital game experiences with the goal of enabling those with limited mobility the ability to access both traditional and VR games.

Me, Myself, and I

Developers from THiNK IMMERSIVE, Quinnipiac University, NYU, and Hexagon UX NYC collaborated with a PhD student in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience from the Behavioral Sciences Lab at York College to create a VR experience to study experiences of bodily self-consciousness using fMRI. This project used a VR platform.

XR Brain Jam is an excellent way to see how immersive experiences can help push the boundaries in research.

— 2018 Jam Attendee
2017 VR Jam

2017 was the inaugural year for the Brain Jam at the Games for Change Festival. In this first year, the jam focused neuroscience research as well as VR-specific technologies. There were 86 participants (22 researchers and 64 developers) who formed 12 teams.

Sample 2017 Projects

Research on how accurately the human brain combines and interprets multisensory information is typically done in a restricted setting because it is difficult to test multisensory integration in a real-world environment. Leveraging the Oculus Rift VR platform, the Marco team created an A VR experience to assist with this research.

Spark a Memory

Inspired by Nicky Case’s Neurotic Neurons, this team created a VR experience that illustrates the basic model of a neural circuit to enable guests to develop a mental model of neural activity.

"I walked into this event without any previous understanding of programming or virtual reality - nothing but a serious enthusiasm to learn as much as I could from the people around me. As a student studying design and neuroscience at The New School, I believe that integrating art, science and tech will be an essential element for any level of innovation in the future. Working with people [at the Jam] and discussing the possibilities of this integration, in the context of VR, has changed the direction of my professional interests. I am excited for the possibilities ahead in the integration of art, science and VR!"