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The New Digital Era: A Video Game Used to Collect Data for Research on Alzheimer's and Dementia




What most people in the baby boomer population and the greatest generation population do not grasp is the concept of video games and the good they can bring. However, there are many benefits to video gaming including: stimulation of the brain and most parts of it and tracking with eye movement to name a few.


There are many articles on the benefits of video gaming. There was a study done from the Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California-Irvine, which concluded that video games, improved memory performance by 12%[i].


Games like Super Mario 64 have assisted in increasing gray matter in the hippocampus which just so happens to be the memory processing center in the brain. This was found out by professors from the Université de Montréal psychology department[ii].


A game developed specifically for research purposes to fight dementia is called Sea Hero Quest which can be found here: http://www.seaheroquest.com. It was designed to collect information just by people playing. Its intentions are to test memory and spatial awareness. However, while you are the captain of your boat and move towards checkpoints and channels that you must navigate the game records your spatial navigation skill. Your spatial navigation skill is one of the first abilities that have deterioration in patients with dementia[iii].



While you play the game you navigate through channels and how you navigate allows the researchers behind the game to show data on spatial awareness. Some of the key analysis in spatial navigation skill are differences seem to appear in 19 year olds. As well different demographics and socioeconomics appear to have differences.


Technology just keeps getting better and better. If you have a moment, take a look at the game from the link above and play through a few levels. The researchers have collected many years of research with this game. The good thing about the game? For every one person playing they can collect months of research from one person playing for a week.


To put everything in perspective, it’s time to break out the video games! DO: Play games, enjoy yourself, create brain stimulation and improve cognitive and memory functioning. DON’T: Miss out on all of the fun! (As always please consult with your physician before attempting to change routines.)


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[i] https://news.uci.edu/2015/12/08/playing-3-d-video-games-can-boost-memory-formation-uci-study-finds/


[ii] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171206141648.htm


[iii] https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/30/sea-hero-quest-vr/

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