去年5月，当我们与 德国电信 and researchers at 伦敦大学学院（UCL） and the 东英吉利大学（UEA） to launch the citizen science project 海英雄任务, we could not have anticipated the sensational response the game would have. 的 mobile app put your sense of direction to the test and challenged you to feats of nautical navigation in the name of neuroscience.
A staggering three million of you downloaded the game, generating an enormous pool of data – the equivalent of many thousands of years of conventional laboratory research. This now makes 海英雄任务 the largest study of its kind in history!
科学家已经在处理您提供的数据，以揭示 有趣的见解 在整个国家，以及整个国家，男女之间的空间导航能力如何不同。但是这项工作只是冰山一角。
One of the earliest symptoms many people with dementia experience is an increased difficulty in finding their way around. We plan to use data from 海英雄任务 to help pinpoint exactly how navigation ability changes when someone develops dementia. Our ultimate aim is to develop a sensitive test that could help to diagnose dementia earlier and more accurately.
Today, an exciting new phase of the project gets underway with the launch of an innovative virtual reality version of the app. Anyone with the Samsung Gear VR system can now download 海英雄任务 VR for free and take part in even more, fun navigation challenges. But this time, instead of controlling a ship that you see in front of you on a screen, the VR headset places you directly at helm, from where you’ll be able to survey your surroundings and chart a course through tropical lagoons, icy ravines and swampy shores.
老年痴呆症’s 研究 UK Champion Fred Walker was one of the first people to try out 海英雄任务 VR. Fred lost his wife to 老年痴呆症’s disease after 46 years of marriage, and knows from his own experience how the condition can wreak havoc with a person’s navigation skills. You can hear Fred’s thoughts about the game in this 视频 .
One of the primary reasons for developing 海英雄任务 for VR is that this is the likely format of the diagnostic tool that we’re working towards. VR doesn’t require people to learn any new skills, you can just put on a headset and look around as if you’re in the real world. This intuitive interface opens up the study to people who might not be used to playing touch-screen games and means it may be more accessible for many people living with dementia.
的 莫里斯水迷宫 was first developed in 1981 and since this time it has become a mainstay for researchers working to understand or promote spatial navigation. 的 task was developed for research with rats and involves them using visual cues, such as pictures on the walls, to orientate themselves and make their way to a target destination. With so much research already having made use of the 莫里斯水迷宫, scientists have a deep understanding of the task and how performance on the test relates to different facets of brain function. 海英雄任务 will now allow us to build on this understanding using data from people who play the virtual reality game.
Improving the diagnosis of dementia is a key goal of our work at 老年痴呆症’s 研究 UK, and we’re delighted to continue to work with 德国电信 as they expand their vision of 海英雄任务. Future treatments are likely to be most effective at the earliest stages of the condition, before there has been too much damage to the brain. 海英雄任务 is a great example of how your support is allowing us to harness the latest technology and adopt innovative new approaches to improve lives for people with dementia.