Virtual Reality and Alzheimer’s Disease
A study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease can easily be detected decades before its inception through a virtual reality test. In the study, people between 18 to 30 years of age were asked to traverse through a virtual maze so as to test the functioning of certain brain cells.
According to German neuroscientists, those characterized by higher Alzheimer’s genetic risks could be identified through their performance. Their findings could possibly aid in the future research, diagnosis as well as treatment.
Scientists led by Lukas Kunz (German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn) said that the high-risk group differently navigated the maze differently and had reduced the functioning of a certain brain cell involved in spatial navigation. Findings gave insights on why individuals with dementia can find challenging to navigate around the world.
They reported in science: “Our results could provide a new basic framework for preclinical research on Alzheimer’s disease and may provide a neurocognitive explanation of spatial disorientation in Alzheimer’s disease.”
Though genes have a bigger role when it comes to dementia, their effects are complex and have so many unknowns. Alzheimer’s Research’s Dr Laura Phipps said that the latest study aimed at a healthier younger generation of people at high risks of Alzheimer’s and suggested that they may show alterations in spatial navigation many years before the disease starts.
She also said: “Although we don’t know whether the young people in this study will go on to develop Alzheimer’s, characterizing early brain changes associated with genetic risk factors is important to help researchers better understand why some people may be more susceptible to disease later in life.”
Phipps also noted that the risk factors for the Alzheimer’s are varied; age, genetics and lifestyle, as well as research, is very crucial as it allows you to unpick how each of the factors could possibly contribute to a risk of the disease to a person.