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Mobile Game Attempts To Diagnose Alzheimer's

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the unforgettable-research dept.

Medicine 21

the_newsbeagle writes "Currently, the best way to check if a person has a high likelihood of developing Alzheimer's is to perform a PET scan to measure the amount of amyloid plaque in his or her brain. That's an expensive procedure. But a startup called Akili Interactive says it has developed a mobile game that can identify likely Alzheimer's patients just by their gameplay and game results. The game is based on a neuroscience study which showed that multitasking is one of the first brain functions to take a hit in Alzheimer's patients. Therefore the game requires players to perform two tasks at the same time."

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not really far fetched at all (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46828567)

the tests for concussions and MTBI seem a lot like hand/eye games.
like 30 minutes of maddening little games.

troops do them now before and after deployments.

Re:not really far fetched at all (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about 3 months ago | (#46828651)

It will be interesting to see how this "diagnostic game" field develops with the aging of generations familiar with electronic game platforms. Calibration of the test to the subject could become far more critical when we have a greater prevalence of sexagenarian gamers. It'll be similar to the problems one might encounter giving a cognitive vocabulary test to equivalently aged persons - one of which is an English professor. Without some intelligent means of accounting for differing patient baselines in gaming ability, false positives may present a greater problem in the future than is experienced now with these source papers.

Re:not really far fetched at all (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#46829423)

A simple matter.

You simply affix an xbox headset to the subject. If they look vaguely confused, you use the general population baselines. If they start reflexively screaming obscenities and accusing the diagnostic team of cheating, you use the gamer baselines.

the GOP will love this (-1, Flamebait)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#46828593)

as all it's takes to a game to get on the pre existing conditions black list.

Re:the GOP will love this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46828627)

you clearly don't understand how Pooled Risk Insurance works.

You know what the Democrats will love? Taking other peoples shit and buying votes with it.

Re:the GOP will love this (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#46828701)

I hope you like having the ER be your primary care doctor and for the stuff they don't cover the jail / prison will Under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, correctional facilities must provide medical care to inmates.

Multitasking (2)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 3 months ago | (#46828639)

My wife says I fail this test on a regular basis.

Achievement Unlocked: Dementia! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46828697)

Gary has sent you five lives. Who the fuck is Gary?

Oblig. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46828765)

Well, I may have alzheimers but at least I don't have alzheimers.

Non-gamers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46828773)

I'm a non-gamer. Adrenaline and reaction time is not my thing. (I also happen to have serious memory drop-outs which has basically clobbered any future programming ('cos although I know what really matters they want coders))

I'm a techie so show me the buttons and give me a couple of learning runs and then I'd be OK, but there are people (I know them) who are scared of tech. LITERALLY hide their eyes when I forced them to input their password into a normal keyboard. So a tech game will disadvantage perfectly normal technophobes. If you gave me a mobile phone and asked me to use it to send a text I'd throw it at you 'cos why not talk to the person!

The other issue is that 'brain degeneration' is easy to see if you know somebody and easy to detect if your mother who has written 3 million words on various word processors phones you up unable to clarify that's she's looking at a spreadsheet because all the technical terms have gone. With a tech-based test you're testing for technical competence not the underlying issue.

Simple Test... (1)

RdeCourtney (2034578) | about 3 months ago | (#46828911)

So the actual test is installing the game and playing it. If you install it and then forget to open it, because you forgot what you were doing, then you have Alzheimers. Simple.

Serious Video Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46828955)

This is more proof that serious video games are definitely coming of age.
Some interesting players include HopeLabs, Ayogo and noteably LinkedWellness, which has a video game that actually TREATS depression (they have a clinical trial which was on the cover of the British Medical Journal that showed the game was about as effective as face-to-face therapy)

http://hopelabs.com
http://ayogo.com
http://linkedwellness.com

Re:Serious Video Games (1)

byornski (1022169) | about 3 months ago | (#46829833)

Most depressing thing I have ever seen:

This app is incompatible with all of your devices. This item cannot be installed in your device's country.

I'm now more depressed than ever :(

There is a paper based 10 minute test (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 3 months ago | (#46829043)

that works just as well.

Your major risk factors continue to be (in order): being female, being old, having Apolipoprotein E alleles of a certain type, cardiovascular risk factors.

You can't do anything about the first three, and by the time most people pay attention, it's far too late, so I'd focus on the last part, quite frankly.

(this is not saying we're not looking into biomarkers, or other things, but a shorthand about your actual risk as a person, if you're not in a family with high Early Onset AD risk)

In general, other than that, reduce stress, get enough sleep, get mild to moderate exercise (even an added block of walking makes a big difference), eat a varied diet, and avoid repeated head injuries (and if you get those, stop playing for longer than you think).

Trapped in Beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46830493)

WTF, this article only loads in slashdot beta.

Fuck beta, gonna go read an article that is actually readable.

Re:There is a paper based 10 minute test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46830511)

There is also a link to type 2 diabetes as a risk factor, I would think type 1 might be a risk as well but it has also been noted that diabetics on recombinant DNA based injectable insulin don't tend to develop the amaloid plaque issue, It is not clear if this is a causal factor or just another correlation. Type 1 diabetics that faithfully take insulin, exercise and eat right can usually control their cholesterol and risk factors for artheriosclerotic plaque issues, but that has been linked rather tellingly to 3 genotypes that carry escalating risk factors, in the presence of poorly controlled blood sugars to 1:1 risk with the general non diabetic population, 2.5:1 risk factor and a 5:1 times risk factor in the worst case. I only know this because I am both a type 1 diabetic and one who has the 5:1 risk genotype (haptoglobin 2-2 allele) All I know from experience is that, taking the right vitamins, avoiding smoking and eating right and controlling your blood sugars with insulin religiously can reverse the situation in short order if done right. (I was able to drop my LDL from 230 down to 90 in about a year with just insulin, diet and exercise. It has been noted vitamin E helps in the case of 2-2 but not the others, and this may be the source of confusion about vitamin E. Studies varied as to it's effectiveness on heart disease.) This is not to say everyone in my situation will be like this. As far as alzheimer's , I may be safe, but as Arthur Dent said in Hitchhiker's Guide, "This is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I hadn't previously been aware of!" There is something to the stress issue too, I have low blood pressure, but was hypertensive before and in a miserable job with an abusive boss. I walked away from that. We are talking a difference of 150/100 then and 100/70 now. Night and day difference, I feel 150% better. Despite this success, after this type of health misadventure, I will always be considered high risk for heart disease and cardiovascular complications. Nature of the beast I guess.

But... (1)

hedgemage (934558) | about 3 months ago | (#46829731)

I can't remember where I left my mobile device.

Re:But... (1)

HybridST (894157) | about 3 months ago | (#46833007)

Sounds like your mobile device is a mobile-device.

Does anyone multitask? (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 3 months ago | (#46829985)

Don't we call do one thing at a time, then flip back and forth between that top-of-stack task and the others in the list? Example: I'm tap-tap-tapping here but two feet to the left is a program I've been working on, still in my memory. But I can't program that and type this at the same time.

Or maybe I already have alzheimers....

Obligatory: Use case (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46830453)

Old Guy: Stella! Where in the hell is my phone? Stella! Damnit!

Joe six pack: Old guy, Stella's been dead for 20 years.. you don't need no phone.. I'll drive you to the neurologist...

Old Guy: If Stella's dead, who in the hell has my phone with all the dirty pictures in it?

Joe six pack: Dad, thats my phone!

What was this about? (1)

jt-socal (1190801) | about 3 months ago | (#46831445)

Please say that again.
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