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Virtual reality games and related neurotechnologies spark a new generation of dementia & cognitive tests

The Sea Hero Quest vir­tu­al real­i­ty game is played on a Sam­sung Gear VR head­set. Source: Glitch­ers Ltd.

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The Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty Game Gath­er­ing Data for Demen­tia Researchers (Bloomberg):

Nav­i­gat­ing an ice-walled lake or scour­ing a swamp for a hid­den mon­ster may sound like a fun premise for a vir­tu­al-real­i­ty video game. But there’s a seri­ous pur­pose behind the new game Sea Hero Quest VR: help­ing neu­ro­sci­en­tists design a new test for demen­tia.

Lon­don-based game design firm Glitch­ers worked with researchers from British and Swiss uni­ver­si­ties, as well as demen­tia and Alzheimer’s char­i­ties, to cre­ate Sea Hero Quest VR. Devel­op­ment of the free-to-down­load game, which is being released Tues­day for Samsung’s Gear VR head­set and Face­book Inc.’s Ocu­lus Rift, was fund­ed by Ger­man mobile car­ri­er Deutsche Telekom AG…Neuroscientists and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists will ana­lyze the data to hope­ful­ly learn more about how humans devel­op spa­tial aware­ness and nav­i­gate new envi­ron­ments. Researchers believe sub­tle degra­da­tion in these skills may be an ear­ly warn­ing sign of demen­tia and that infor­ma­tion from the game could even­tu­al­ly lead to new tests to detect cog­ni­tive impair­ment ear­li­er.”

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