Sea Hero is a video game developed by the Glitchers study jointly with Deutsche Telekom and several European universities and is designed to identify people who have early symptoms and mild dementia symptoms that medical tests can not detect.
When most people think of Alzheimer's disease, they think only of a disease that can damage a person's memory. But although memory problems are very common and serious in Alzheimer's, it is a series of symptoms that occur late. Researchers and physicians seek to detect the disease as soon as possible before it begins to weaken memory so that future treatments are more effective and work better.
Sea Hero It was conceived as a way to identify people who may be at risk for contracting the disease but who still do not have significant symptoms and, according to a study published recently in the journal PNAS, it appears that it is fulfilling this function.
In Sea Hero (which is a virtual reality game) players must navigate and control a virtual ship. They get a map and show a series of checkpoints, then the map is removed and players must navigate to those places without the help of the map.
According to the researchers, two minutes dedicated to that amount for five hours of research in the laboratory. As the game was released years ago and more than three million players played it, in total they have compiled data equivalent to 1,700 years of Alzheimer's research.
The researchers studied people who carried the APOE4 gene, which is believed to increase the risk of developing dementia during the game. Later, they compared the results of those people with the results of those who did not have this gene.
"We found that people at high genetic risk, with APOE4, had poorer performance in space navigation tasks. They took less efficient routes to the checkpoints," said team member Professor Michael Hornberger.
Using the data they collected from thousands of players, the researchers were able to create a benchmark against which the test results could be compared. In the future, the team hopes that this data and the game will help them identify people who need treatment for dementia before they begin to suffer some of the worst symptoms they have in later stages.
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