The mobile game Sea Hero Quest is played by almost 2.5 million people throughout the world, hence the largest-scale dementia study globally has been provided due to advanced technologies
The members of Deutsche Telekom Group have jointly set a new standard in dementia research through the mobile game Sea Hero Quest, promoted by Hrvatski Telekom on the Croatian market. 47 million people suffer from dementia throughout the world. Almost 2.5 million people worldwide have thus far played the mobile game Sea Hero Quest and have hence provided the first global benchmark of human spatial navigation abilities, which is considered a turning point in the development of innovative diagnostic tools for early detection of dementia. Consequently, the largest-scale dementia study has been provided globally.
The research team has recently presented the initial findings from the analysis of the data set generated by the game at the leading global conference Neuroscience 2016 in San Diego. The mobile game Sea Hero Quest has been developed in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Research, scientists, and game designers. The Croatian Society for Alzheimer’s Disease is a Hrvatski Telekom project partner in the implementation of this noteworthy scientific project.
“Digitisation and innovations provide a vast array of benefits in our everyday lives and hence also in the healthcare segment. This game is an excellent example of how technological innovations actually contribute to the development of important scientific researches. The data collected through our advanced cloud technologies provide the opportunity for our scientists to both more effectively and efficiently gain deeper insights fundamental for their fight against dementia”, stated Davor Tomašković, President of the Management Board of HT.
Gaming results provide a remarkable insight into early phases of the disease
The game is intended to provide new insights into the decline in spatial navigation abilities, which is one of the first signs of dementia. The data collected during the last 6 months have already provided the scientists with new valuable information on the early stage of the disease. The initial processed findings have indicated that human spatial navigation abilities begin to decline from early adulthood and that they continue on this trajectory across the lifespan. Consequently, those aged 19 were 74% likely to accurately hit a target during the game, whereas the figure had reduced to 46% amongst those aged 75. This progression is in stark contrast to previous smaller scale studies which had previously suggested that such a decline in spatial navigation abilities could be expected later in life.
“The collected data are of immense importance in providing a deeper insight into dementia, since we are talking about a huge quantity of data collected over a period of only 6 months. We have reasons to believe that these data will be used to establish a new, reliable, affordable, and non-invasive marker intended to detect both Alzheimer’s disease and some other types of dementia as early as during the so-called pre-clinical phase. Such early diagnostics would enable also early therapeutic intervention and certainly also a higher quality of life for both those suffering from the disease and their families compared with the current situation. We are particularly delighted with the fact that a large number of people from Croatia has participated in this significant project and that the Croatian Society for Alzheimer’s Disease has been a project partner from the very inception of this idea”, pointed out Ninoslav Mimica, MD, Ph. D., prof., Vice-President of the Croatian Society for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Moreover, the findings indicate that those regions of the brain that are essential for navigation processes may be more susceptible to dementia than areas that control memory. It could therefore now become possible to diagnose the onset of dementia in patients long before they exhibit any signs of memory loss, hence enabling the diagnosis and treatment of patients far earlier.
Throughout the analysis men and women have shown to have employed different spatial navigation strategies to complete the level. Key differences across the nations have also been found with the Nordic countries whose inhabitants have shown to have particularly noteworthy spatial navigation capabilities across the set of 189 nations of the world contributing to the sample provided by the mobile game Sea Hero Quest. Understanding these points of difference is significant as it ensures such factors are accounted for during diagnosis and treatment, potentially leading to greater accuracy and effectiveness.
The project focus on early diagnostics and patient treatment
The data collected through the mobile game are still being submitted to the scientists participating in the project, as well as to the Alzheimer’s Research, and will hence be comprehensively analysed which is expected to last two more years. The next project step is to use the mobile game Sea Hero Quest in early diagnosing of dementia and in patient treatment, as well as in the analysis of the drug effectiveness. This research is likely to be a real breakthrough in the fight against dementia which, according to estimates, is expected to affect 131 million people by 2050 at the global level.
The game is still available for download through App Store and Google Play.