Under the Hood

Alzheimer’s Disease Early Signs: Mild Cognitive Impairment Can Be Detected With Self-Administered VR Brain Game

A virtual reality supermarket game could be an accurate way of testing someone for Alzheimer’s from the comfort of their own home.

Research in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease describes a study in which healthy people and people with mild cognitive impairment were given a tablet computer with a VR application. Their performance in the game and how long they took to complete their exercises were indicators of whether they were impaired.

Read: Concussions Speed Up Alzheimer’s

The findings could be important for people at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, as mild cognitive impairment could show itself before the dementia fully develops. And the virtual reality test could be performed at home, without a medical professional present.

vr-mci A virtual reality supermarket game could help diagnose mild cognitive impairment, an early sign of Alzheimer's disease. IOS Press

People with mild cognitive impairment “often encounter difficulties in performing complex activities such as financial planning” and are likely to develop dementia, but diagnosing the condition and treating it could delay mental decline, according to a statement from journal publisher IOS Press. As an added bonus, older adults are using computer games more and more to exercise their brains and keep up their brain health.

Alzheimer’s disease is infamous for degrading the memory of people with the condition. In its early stages, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, the form of dementia may show itself with someone “forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects” even though they appear to be functioning normally in most other ways. A person with early-stage Alzheimer’s may also start having problems organizing.

Researchers are working on ways to detect Alzheimer’s early. One idea involves measuring the amount of a certain protein in a person’s spinal fluid — a protein that indicates a type of immune system response common in people with the disease.

Source: Zygouris S, Ntovas K, Giakoumis D, et al. A Preliminary Study on the Feasibility of Using a Virtual Reality Cognitive Training Application for Remote Detection of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 2017.

See also:

Can People With Alzheimer’s Actually Consent to Treatment?

A Test for Alzheimer’s Early On

Loading...