Latest findings show how a video game can help detect earliest stages of Alzeihmer’s disease. The video game does not eliminate the memory tests which still represent the standard for identifying dementia.
Scientists think that the cause of Alzeihmer’s is produced by the amyloid beta protein not released normally in the synapses of the brain. In some cases it can be built up over time and it leads to the death of neurons. The scary thing about this disease is that it can build up quietly in human body without feeling and detecting the symptoms of the disease. Only when the build-up reaches a certain level, the disease kicks off intensely and Alzeihmer’s is already at an advanced stage.
In order to discover the earliest stages of the disease in humans, the researchers have developed an original route for testing, detecting and assessing using a video game called Sea Hero Quest. A combination of resources contributed to Researchers at the University of East Anglia, the University College London, and the Institute of Alzheimer’s Research UK established the fundamentals of the video game to be developed for an iPhone app by Glitchers with funds from Deutsche Telekom.
Sea Hero Quest is able to involve:
- a large number of online participants enticed by using a different tool for future diagnostics
- the players with an option to decide whether they want the researchers use their data
In a study aimed to discover early stages of dementia in the participants, playing the video game has revealed the following facts:
- participants with a build-up of amyloid beta use the app in a different way
- large amounts of data result from using the online video game in a short time
- the results of the study open endless possibilities to develop custom drug treatment programs and future diagnostics tailored to each patient
While in the game, the players use their thumbs to guide a boat through maritime mazes which pass through various checkpoints. The players in a larger pool that have been previously detected as high risk dementia and not having any memory difficulties exhibit distinct movement patterns. People who might develop dementia navigate the virtual world differently and have proved less able to follow efficient routes that the other participants in the game.
The critical point to discover before the advanced stage of Alzeihmer’s refers to spatial navigation engaged by the players. They can play only seconds and much data is revealed about those who are in the early stages of Alzeihmer’s. Due to the internet version of the video game it is highly accessible by many and the software creator acknowledges that and impressive number of over 3 million played the video game.
Literally, today the diagnosis is based only on the dementia symptoms related to memory and cognition when it is too late. Scientists think that the disease bursts due to the collection of amyloid beta in the brain, so the early detection proves critical and the video game helps tremendously by unravelling the person’s level of spatial navigation, conscious understanding and recognition.