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Brain-Boosting App May Detect Alzheimer’s

Caitlin Burm
By Caitlin BurmAugust 21, 2017

Do you have an iPad or iPhone? An app available on these two devices could detect and track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about how Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, is working with game developer, Akili Interactive Labs, to determine if their “Neuroracer” app can detect early signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia in seemingly healthy senior players.

An App to Detect Alzheimer’s

Neuroscientist, Dr. Adam Gazzaley, co-founded the game development company Akili with a goal to turn his research into medical products that could make an impact in the fight against Alzheimer’s. His app, “Neuroracer,” requires players to stay on a race track while simultaneously shooting down signs on a road.

The initial study led by Dr. Gazzaley found that elderly gamers had better focus, improved memory and improved multitasking ability after playing the game. Research also showed that as the ability to multitask improved, senior brain activity changed and cognitive benefits transferred into every day life.

More importantly, the study confirmed that cognitive function can be improved with proper training methods and treatment. Depending on additional testing, the app could serve as a benchmark for doctors to test a patient’s response to other treatment methods and could pave the way for more games as medical tools.

Chief Executive Officer at Akili, Eddie Martucci, Ph.D, said, “We think this is an emerging field and we want to be the leaders in it. We’re making a new type of product: Mobile video games that can be mainstream medical tools.”

Brain-Boosting Games

Although this may be the first app of its kind to identify dementia, there is no shortage of games that work to improve cognitive ability.

Neuroscape, a neuroscience center based at the University of California San Francisco, is currently “engaged in technology creation and scientific research to assess and optimize brain function.”

The center is focused on the creation of brain-boosting games, which include:

  • Adaptive Cognitive Evaluation, or ACE: “A mobile cognitive assessment tool that evaluates multiple dimensions of cognitive control quickly and without ceiling or floor effects.”
  • Body Brain Trainer: “A full-body motion capture game that simultaneously pushes players physically and cognitively via adaptive algorithms that target heart rate and cognitive abilities, thus optimizing performance across both body and brain.”
  • Meditrain: “A unique ‘East-meets-West’ approach, MediTrain integrates the principles of concentrative meditation with the video game mechanics of adaptivity and feedback to create a powerful cognitive training game.”

These games, and more, are all at various stages of development according to Neuroscape. They will be released from the lab after more extensive testing and productization is completed.

You can try one of these other brain-boosting apps to give your mind a workout in the meantime:

1. Lumosity Brain Trainer (Free on the App Store or Google Play)

Designed by neuroscientists, this game is a free collection of brain games specifically designed to boost brain power.

2. Math vs. Brain (Free on the App Store)

More than just word problems, this app is a free math brainteaser app.

3. Mind Games (Free)

With over 20 different puzzles and 200 levels of difficulty, this free game will keep your mind busy.

4. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (Free on the App Store or Google Play)

This free app ensures you are getting quality sleep, which can help prevent Alzheimer’s.

5. Sodoku by EA

This game requires the player to fit the numbers 1-9 in each box, column and row without repeating a number.

Do you use any brain-boosting apps not listed above? We’d love to hear any app suggestions in the comments below.

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Caitlin Burm

Caitlin Burm

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