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Playing smartphone game can have impact on dementia research

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Playing Sea Hero Quest helps dementia research

Photographer/Digital Trends

You can do your bit to help with dementia research right now. Just download and play Sea Hero Quest on your smartphone.

Researchers at University College London are collecting data on how brains navigate, according to Sky News. Because early signs of dementia include difficulties with navigating familiar places and spatial awareness, a reference database built from the behaviors of “normal” people without dementia can help in screening.

Dementia is not a specific disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.”

Related: Predict Alzheimers decades early with this virtual reality test

Sea Hero Quest is a game in which you help an explorer navigate  through multiple levels, gathering messages and information that represent memories of the explorer’s aging father. If you’re not a game player, be assured the game is pretty easy and you don’t have to play a long time to help.

I am definitely not a gamer but I was able to download Sea Hero Quest on an iPhone and start playing within a couple of minutes. All you have to do is tap left and right directional buttons to keep a ship straight in a channel.

Even two minutes of play is enough. According to the UCL researchers, if 100,000 people play the game for two minutes each, they will collect the data equivalent of 50 years of lab research. University College London neuroscientist Dr Hugo Spiers said, “It’s citizen science. Every one of my friends — every one of your friends, I hope — will contribute to helping us fight dementia.”

So take a break, install the game and play for a few minutes. Sea Hero Quest is available at the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. Some of us will eventually develop dementia, in one form or another. Early diagnosis and proper medical treatment can slow, though so far not stop, the decline.