Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients suffer from cognitive problems and often encounter
difficulties in performing complex activities such as financial
planning. They are at a high risk for progressing to dementia however
early detection of MCI and suitable interventions can stabilize the
patients' condition and prevent further decline.
It has been shown that virtual reality game-based applications and
especially virtual supermarkets can detect MCI. Past studies have
utilized user performance in such applications along with data from
standardized neuropsychological tests in order to detect MCI.
‘Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can be remotely detected through a self-administered virtual reality brain training game.’
demonstrated the potential of a self-administered virtual supermarket
cognitive training game for remotely detecting mild cognitive impairment, without the need for an examiner, among a sample of older
that conducted this study was the first scientific team to achieve
reliable MCI detection using a virtual reality game-based application on
In that previous study, administration of the virtual super
market (VSM) exercise was conducted by an examiner. The present study
eliminated the need for an examiner by calculating the average
performance of older adults using a special version of the VSM
application, the VSM Remote Assessment Routine (VSM-RAR), at home on
their own, for a period of one month. It is the first instance where a
self-administered virtual reality application was used to detect MCI
with a high degree of reliability.
The research team included scientists from the Aristotle University
of Thessaloniki (AUTH), the Centre for Research and Technology
Hellas/Information Technologies Institute (CERTH/ITI), the Greek
Association of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders (GAADRD) and
the Network Aging Research (NAR) of the University of Heidelberg.
In an article published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
the researchers have indicated that the virtual supermarket remote
assessment routine (VSM-RAR) application displayed a correct
classification rate (CCR) of 91.8% improving VSM's CCR as assessed in
the previous VSM study while achieving a level of diagnostic accuracy
similar to the most accurate standardized neuropsychological tests,
which are considered the gold standard for MCI detection.
Self-administered computerized cognitive training exercises/games
are gaining popularity among older adults as an easy and enjoyable means
of maintaining cognitive health. Such applications are especially
popular among older adults who consider themselves healthy and are not
inclined to visit specialized memory clinics for cognitive assessment.
If self-administered games and exercises could also detect cognitive
disorders, initial cognitive screening could be conducted remotely. The
wide implementation of this method of remote screening would facilitate
the detection of cognitive impairment at the MCI stage thus allowing for
more efficient therapeutic interventions.
This preliminary study indicates that automated, remote MCI
screening is feasible. This method could be utilized to screen the
majority of the older adult population, as it dramatically lowers
examination-related costs. The social and economic benefits, especially
caregiver and healthcare service burden, of the early detection of
cognitive disorders could be enormous.
At the same time, as older adults
are becoming increasingly computer savvy, it is important to create
software that meets their needs and allows them to remain healthy and
active. Out team continues its research on the VSM with the aim of
improving its usability, shortening its administration time and
supplementing the science behind VSM with additional data.