A game that helps scientists understand dementia


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My iPhone alerted me—I had to update some of my apps. When I opened the App Store, a headline jumped out at me: “This Game Helps Scientists Fight Dementia.”

Sea Hero Quest” is a really interesting way for scientists at Deutsche Telekom to “crowdsource” information about things like reaction time and spatial awareness. 


“Playing the game will help our scientists understand in detail how our brains navigate space, and help to build the largest crowd-sourced database on human spatial navigation,” the site reads.

What do YOU do in the game? You navigate a boat and collect points. It’s simple, clever, and fairly easy to get points. Each time to reach another point in the game (which is often) you are asked a few questions like, “How old are you?” Questions like these help the researchers put your otherwise-anonymous data into a pool that helps them identify how quickly different the brains of people with dementia are from the rest of the population. 

“Playing the game for just a few minutes will provide this completely anonymous data to help improve our understanding of navigational cognition. We’ll create a benchmark to help determine what goes wrong in the brain for people with dementia,” the site says.


I learn by doing, so downloading the app was really the only way for me to understand what it was about. It’s a pretty cool app, and it’s a fun little game to play. 

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of two published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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