New research that seeks to highlight the potential for diagnosing new diseases shows that virtual reality can play an important role in monitoring Alzheimer’s disease.
Dementia is a general term that describes disorders of cognitive function such as memory, thinking, and communication.
Cognitive decline related to dementia is progressive and people can go through different stages.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the initial stage of dementia, but some people with MCI do not develop Alzheimer’s disease.
MCI can be caused by anxiety or normal aging. Therefore, it is important to determine the risk of dementia.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia.
Doctors diagnose dementia in about 10 million people per year, and 60-70% of new diagnoses detect Alzheimer’s disease.
Some cognitive tests can evaluate dementia, but researchers have recently explored the potential of sophisticated new technologies.
A new study from the University of Cambridge in England – whose results now appear in the journal Brain – shows that virtual reality (VR) can be more accurate than standard tests.
Test navigation problems
Entorhinalcortex is a part of the inner “Satan” that helps us move and not lose. This is also one of the first brain regions to damage Alzheimer’s disease.
John O’Keefe from University College London (UCL), England, discovered this positioning system in the brain and then won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Because cognitive tests are currently available, they cannot test the difficulties by the Clinical Neurosciences Department at Cambridge University in the navigation research team. Cooperating with Prof. Neil Burgess from UCL – developed a VR navigation test.
The researchers recruited 45 people with MCI and 41 without MCI. They gave them all VR headphones and asked them to leave in a simulated environment.
To find biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease in people with ICM, the researchers took their CSF (CSF) samples. Twelve positive participants. Overall, those who have an MCI score are worse than the MCI-free test.
This study shows that people with positive MCF CSI markers perform worse than people with negative CSF markers. In addition, VR navigation tests are more effective in distinguishing people from MCI with the risk of low and high dementia from standardized tests.
“These results suggest that VR-test navigation might be better at identifying early Alzheimer’s disease than tests that are being conducted at the clinic and in research,” Dr. Dennis Chan, who leads the team.
Develop drugs for the future with BP
VR can also be a useful tool during clinical trials for future medicines. This test is usually an animal experiment. Scientists are studying the effects of a water labyrinth drug, where mice need to find a hidden platform under a dark pond.
When initial animal testing is successful, people will be examined in the next phase. Tests usually include memory tests of words and images. The difference between animal and human testing is the main problem for experiments because the results are difficult to compare.
“Brain cells that support navigation are similar in mice and humans, so navigation testing can enable us to overcome these obstacles in trying to treat diseases and turn scientific knowledge into clinical applications,” Chan explained.
He added that the scientists in this study were interested in the role of new technology in medical diagnostics for a while, but VR technology has recently reached the point where scientists feel comfortable using it for human studies.
Chan and his colleagues are developing applications for smartphones and smart watches to track changes in their daily activities and detect early signs of Alzheimer’s.