Video game could help detect Alzheimer’s
The game is a result of an international collaboration into Alzheimer’s research
Video games are proving to be more important than previously recognized. It has been shown that they can be beneficial in teaching real-life skills in higher-education facilities and, now, scientists are using a video game to help detect whether or not someone could ultimately suffer from Alzheimer’s well ahead of the onset of any symptoms, including memory loss.
Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, the UK’s University College London and University of East Anglia and French research group CNRS have created Sea Hero Quest, a video game that analyzes a person’s brain to determine if Alzheimer’s could eventually appear.
The game was first introduced in 2016; however, it has received a lot of updates and improvements since then and has now been downloaded more than 4.3 million times. The concept of the game centers on the player finding the quickest route to a series of buoys, or checkpoints, through a maze if islands and icebergs. The idea is to determine the user’s ability to navigate, which, if lost, is said to be a sign that Alzheimer’s could appear. Researchers, when testing the game with independent subjects, found that the responses in the game were very similar to those subjects’ abilities in the real world.
According to Gillian Coughlan, a researcher with East Anglia, “Research shows us that the brain changes associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s begin decades before symptoms like memory loss start and for future Alzheimer’s treatments to be effective, it’s likely they must be given at the earliest stages of disease, before there’s too much damage to the brain. Hero Quest is an amazing example of how pioneering research can help scientists get one step closer to a life-changing breakthrough.”