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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A virtual reality brain training game can detect mild cognitive impairment

Virtual reality game-based applications and especially virtual supermarkets have been used as cognitive training applications and as measures of cognitive functions, although it has been shown that they can detect MCI only when used in combination with standardized neuropsychological tests.
However scientists have succeeded in making the shift to MCI screening via robust virtual reality game applications that can be used on their own for accurate MCI detection.
In an article published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, the researchers have indicated that the virtual supermarket (VSM) application displayed a correct classification rate (CCR) of 87.30%, achieving a level of diagnostic accuracy similar to standardized neuropsychological tests, which are the gold standard for MCI screening.
The use of the VSM as a robust screening test could have profound implications for the diagnosis and treatment of MCI, the most important of which is the possibility for automated remote MCI screening. The performance of older adults playing such a game at home could be monitored and an algorithm embedded in the game could inform them when their performance suggests possible cognitive impairment due to MCI, prompting them to visit an appropriate health service. Such a system would have the ability to screen the majority of older adults effectively, while at the same time minimizing examination costs.