A specially designed mobile phone game can detect people at risk of Alzheimer’s – according to new research from the University of East Anglia. Researchers studied gaming data from an app called Sea Hero Quest, which has been downloaded and played by more than 4.3 million people worldwide. The game, created by Deutsche Telekom in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK, University College London, the University of East Anglia, and game developers Glitchers, has been designed to help researchers better-understand dementia by seeing how the brain works in relation to spatial navigation. As players make their way through mazes of islands and icebergs, the research team are able to translate every 0.5 seconds of gameplay into scientific data. The team studied how people who are genetically pre-disposed to Alzheimer’s disease, play the game – compared to people who are not. The results, published in the journal PNAS, show that people who are genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease can be distinguished from those who are not on specific levels of the Sea Hero Quest game. The findings are particularly important because a standard memory and thinking test could not distinguish between the risk and non-risk groups.
Download the game here.