Saturday October 19, 2019

Virtual Reality Can Identify Early Alzheimer’s More Accurately

The researchers are now working towards developing apps for detecting the disease and monitoring its progression

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

Virtual reality (VR) technology can identify early Alzheimer’s disease more accurately than ‘gold standard’ cognitive tests currently in use, says a study.

The findings, published in the journal Brain, highlight the potential of new technologies to help diagnose and monitor conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“These results suggest a VR test of navigation may be better at identifying early Alzheimer’s disease than tests we use at present in clinic and in research studies,” said study lead author Dennis Chan, Professor at the University of Cambridge in Britain.

The researchers developed and trialled a VR navigation test in patients at risk of developing dementia.

For the study, the research team recruited 45 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Patients with MCI typically exhibit memory impairment.

They took samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to look for biomarkers of underlying Alzheimer’s disease in their MCI patients, with 12 testing positive. The researchers also recruited 41 healthy controls for comparison.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

All of the patients with MCI performed worse on the navigation task than the healthy controls. However, the study yielded two crucial additional observations.

First, MCI patients with positive CSF markers — indicating the presence of Alzheimer’s disease, thus placing them at risk of developing dementia — performed worse than those with negative CSF markers at low risk of future dementia.

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Secondly, the VR navigation task was better at differentiating between these low and high risk patients with mild cognitive impairment than a battery of currently-used tests considered to be gold standard for the diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s, the study said.

The researchers are now working towards developing apps for detecting the disease and monitoring its progression.

“We live in a world where mobile devices are almost ubiquitous, and so app-based approaches have the potential to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at minimal extra cost and at a scale way beyond that of brain scanning and other current diagnostic approaches,” Chan said. (IANS)

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Artificial Skin Made of Silicon Helps In Enhanced VR Experience

Scientists have developed a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes that can help in rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality

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AI Skin, silicon, Virtual Reality, VR
This is ideal for wearable applications, such as for testing a patient's proprioception in medical applications. VOA

Scientists have developed a soft, flexible artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes that can help in rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality (VR).

Just like our senses of hearing and vision, our sense of touch plays an important role in how we perceive and interact with the world around us.

The skin’s system of soft sensors and actuators enable the artificial skin to conform to the exact shape of a wearer’s wrist, for example, and provide haptic feedback in the form of pressure and vibration.

Strain sensors continuously measure the skin’s deformation so that the haptic feedback can be adjusted in real time to produce a sense of touch that’s as realistic as possible, said the team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

“This is the first time we have developed an entirely soft artificial skin where both sensors and actuators are integrated,” said Harshal Sonar, the study’s lead author.

“This is ideal for wearable applications, such as for testing a patient’s proprioception in medical applications,” said Sonar, in the journal Soft Robotics.

AI Skin, silicon, Virtual Reality, VR
To develop the device that can quickly determine a skin lesion’s depth and potential malignancy without using a scalpel. Pixabay

The artificial skin can be stretched up to four times its original length for up to a million cycles. That makes it particularly attractive for a number of real-world applications.

For now, the scientists have tested it on users’ fingers and are still making improvements to the technology.

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“The next step will be to develop a fully wearable prototype for applications in rehabilitation and virtual and Augmented Reality (AR),” said Sonar. (IANS)