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Ever played an addicting game on your iPhone and wondered how you just spent 30 minutes on a whole lot of nothing?

I think we’ve all been there.

Sea Hero Quest, like many others games, is an electric kaleidoscope with challenges that test memory and spatial awareness. Its bursts of colors, interaction and challenges engross our senses and activate our wonder. That’s why we play — but it is not wasted time.

Sea Hero Quest scores the player’s navigation skills, which also happens to be an ability dementia patients begin to lose. The creators are actually collecting data across demographics to gain a better understanding on this important skill as part of their dementia research. In short, they are learning more about a normally functioning brain.

The makers of the game are behind an updated version that uses virtual reality technology, which could further increase datasets into this cognitive field.

As the data is revealed, we are learning about differences in basic spatial navigation skills showing in people 19 years old. This is a hint that mental deterioration when it comes to dementia could begin earlier than we thought. But, this is preliminary insight. Another finding is that women and men approach problem-solving in different ways.

The hope with this is that we can improve diagnoses, conduct more studies and alter living environments to tailor them to those with dementia.

Want to play the game? Download it here.

In an earlier post, I wrote about gamified cognitive training and its role in helping scale back on the effect of memory loss.

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