Sea Hero Quest helps diagnose Alzheimer's long before symptoms appear

Typically, Alzheimer's is suspected when a person has memory problems. However, this is no longer an initial stage, but a neglected state. To get ahead of the disease, scientists have developed a game that serves as a test to test spatial orientation abilities. Initially, such tests were conducted with volunteers on the streets of real cities, but it quickly became clear that playing on a tablet was safer.

The game is called "Sea Hero Quest" and was developed by a team of experts from Deutsche Telekom Germany, CNRS French research group, British University College London and the University of East Anglia. Since 2016, about 4.3 million people have already played in it, which gives a good relevance of the assessment. And it is such that, with a probability of more than 50%, those who do not cope well with the game have the APOE4 gene, which is associated with the disease.

The task of the players is to pave the way for the ship through a system of labyrinths of ice, buoys and islands. It is imperative to visit the control points and at the same time spend as little time as possible - that is, move not at random, but along the shortest route. The difference may not be big, but those who are already showing Alzheimer's symptoms may not be able to choose a winning strategy. This pattern has been repeatedly tested on volunteers and hospital patients using laboratory tests.

The work on the game became a clear proof of the hypothesis: changes in the human brain under the influence of Alzheimer's disease begin long, even decades before the obvious symptoms appear. And such unpretentious games as "Sea Hero Quest" give chances to detect it, if not in time, then at least with a large margin of time. But this is the most important thing in treatment.