Mobile Game Tests for Dementia
Sea Hero Quest, a new smartphone game that depends on navigational abilities—one of the first skills lost in the onset of dementia—may accurately diagnose the condition in its early stages. In the game, which is currently available for iOS and Android, players embark on a global quest to find artifacts—in the form of memories—that can be collected in different locations.
Research presented at the Neuroscience 2016 conference suggests that navigation abilities begin to decline in young adulthood—not just in older age. Since Sea Hero Quest launched in May 2016, more than 2.4 million people have played, resulting in the collection of a significant amount of data. The goal of a recent study was to use that data to identify normal navigational skills and use that information to develop a test for early dementia.
Early results are promising—the study yielded the most accurate results of any research to date. The primary finding is that navigational skills begin to diminish as young as 19 and continue to decline throughout our lives. Research is ongoing—scientists next hope to include a study conducting brain imaging while participants play the game.
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