Video game created to identify symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is doing extremely well

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A video game developed by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, partnering with game studio Glitchers and numerous European universities, named Sea Hero Quest is designed to recognize individuals who might have early and mild manifestations of dementia that medical tests are not able to identify.

Most people think that the Alzheimer’s disease as the illness that destroys a person’s memory but even though memory issues are very usual and serious with Alzheimer’s disease, these are already late-stage manifestations. Doctors and researchers aim to observe the disease as early as possible, before memory starts to loosen, in order to give future treatments the best odds to work.

The game was developed as a method to recognize people who might be at risk of Alzheimer’s but who are not manifesting any serious symptoms of the illness. According to a recent study released in the journal PNAS, the game is effective.

Sea Hero Quest is a VR game. The players have to operate and control a virtual boat, having a map and visible checkpoints for a while. Then the map is taken away and the players have to arrive to the checkpoints without the map.

Researchers say that every two minutes used to play the game is corresponding to about five hours of laboratory research. Because the game has been available for a few year and installed then played by over three million people, researchers have gathered the tantamount of about 1,700 years of research data on Alzheimer’s.

Researchers observed people who had the APOE4 gene as they played the game, a gene thought to grow that person’s probability of developing dementia. They then compared these people’s results to the outcomes of people who played the game and doesn’t carry the gene.

Professor Michael Hornberger, a member of the team said that the APOE4 carriers operated worse on spatial navigation missions.

Researchers were able to develop a guideline that their conclusions could be compared to by using data collected from thousands of Sea Hero Quest players. The research team hopes this data together with the game will assist in the future in identifying people in need of treatment for dementia even before they have the late phase manifestations.


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