Navigation test for dementia
A trial has been devised to test one of the first things to go with dementia - the ability to navigate.
A virtual reality computer game has been developed as part of what is claimed as the world's biggest dementia research experiment. The challenge is to use one's sense of direction to navigate through complex waterways, desert islands and icy oceans.
The original smartphone app had 3 million players, but the new virtual-reality version should allow researchers to investigate in greater detail. Whilst the game is played, anonymous data is collected and, later, assessed by neuroscientists.
One challenge required players to weave through waterways and then fire a flare in the direction of home. Results analysed at University College London suggest that a sense of direction declines consistently after the teenage years; players aged 19 were 74% accurate at firing the flare back home, but accuracy fell year-by-year until it reached 46% at age 75.
The data also suggested that men have a slightly better sense of direction than women and that the Nordic nations outperform the rest in the world; also, people in better health retain their navigational abilities longer and coastal nations create better navigators.
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