Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany, considered one of Europe’s most important institutes of higher education, have been working on using technology, such as Virtual Reality, for help them find a cure for one of our planet’s most devastating diseases: Alzheimer’s.
They started using VR back in 2015, developing a test that could be used to monitor the very earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease in people aged 18 to 30. In a report to Science magazine by Nikolai Axmacher, a study author, it was determined that “The at-risk group showed a different brain signal many decades before the onset of the disease, and they navigated differently in a virtual environment; This suggests that you can either used the grid cell system or you can use the hippocampus.”.
This could be an incredible leap in the quest to eradicate a disease that absolutely destroys the quality of life for so many families across the world.
Despite this great potential advancement, Laura Pipps, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, issues a bit of a warning: “Although we don’t know whether 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 the disease later in life; The risk factors for Alzheimer’s are diverse, including age, genetics and lifestyle, and research is vital to allow us to unpick how each of these factors could contribute to a person’s risk of the disease.” as Pipps told the BBC.
Here’s to hoping it works, and that Virtual Reality can be an integral part of the Solution.