Using Virtual Reality to Diagnose Mild Cognitive Impairment

By Carrie Frye
Friday, January 16, 2015

A virtual reality game-based application is a useful tool for diagnosing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — a condition that frequently precedes Alzheimer’s — suggests a recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Researchers used a virtual supermarket (VSM) cognitive training application that, on its own, achieved an 87.3 percent correct classification rate of MCI patients versus healthy older adults — comparable to that of neuropsychology tests that have been the gold standard for MCI screening. VSM was not useful, however, in assessing different MCI subtypes.

An easy- and enjoyable-to-use screening tool that requires no additional neuropsychological testing could be a boon for diagnosis and treatment. A VSM application could be used to establish automated, remote screening capabilities that may identify MCI before it progresses to Alzheimer’s or other dementias, according to the study.