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Is virtual reality the next frontier of Alzheimer's diagnosis?

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Please see our privacy policy for more information.The details of this article have been emailed on your behalf.Click here to return to the Medical News Today home page.Dementia is a general term to describe the impairment of cognitive functions such as memory, thinking, and communication.The cognitive decline associated with dementia is progressive, and people may go through different stages.Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an early stage of dementia, but some people with MCI do not develop Alzheimer's disease.MCI can result from anxiety or normal aging, so it is important to establish the cause to evaluate the risk of dementia.Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia. Also, the VR navigation test was more effective in differentiating between people with MCI at low and high risk of dementia than standard tests."These results suggest a VR test of navigation may be better at identifying early Alzheimer's disease than tests we use at present in the clinic and in research studies," says Dennis Chan, Ph.D., who led the team.VR may also be a useful tool during clinical trials for future drugs. The difference between the animal and human test represents a big problem for trials because results are hard to compare."The brain cells underpinning navigation are similar in rodents and humans, so testing navigation may allow us to overcome this roadblock in Alzheimer's drug trials and help translate basic science discoveries into clinical use," explains Chan.He adds that scientists have been interested in exploring the role of new technologies in medical diagnosis for a while, but VR technology has only recently reached the point where scientists feel comfortable using it for tests in humans.Chan and colleagues are working to develop apps for smartphones and smartwatches that track changes in everyday activities and detect early signs of Alzheimer's."We live in a world where mobile devices are almost ubiquitous, and so app-based approaches have the potential to diagnose Alzheimer's disease at minimal extra cost and at a scale way beyond that of brain scanning and other current diagnostic approaches."Dennis Chan, Ph.D.Your privacy is important to us.Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK.© 2004-2019 All rights reserved.

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