Game shows that ability to navigate declines at young age

Story highlights

  • A mobile game called "Sea Hero Quest" tracks spatial awareness among users
  • Doctors will use the data to help diagnose dementia

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(CNN)A mobile game has revealed the navigational skills of people around the world in a bid to develop an accurate test for dementia.

The smartphone game, called "Sea Hero Quest," asks players to set sail on a global adventure in search of precious artifacts -- in the form of memories -- which can be collected at different locations around the world.
    As you progress through the game, scientists can use the data you generate to gain insight into your navigational abilities, which is one of the first skills people lose during the onset of dementia.
      Initial results, presented at the Neuroscience 2016 conference in San Diego on Wednesday, found that our navigational skills deteriorate from early adulthood and for the rest of our lives, not just in older age, as previously thought.
      More than 2.4 million people have played the game since its launch in May, generating the equivalent of more than 9,000 years of lab data. In addition to new insight into our navigational decline, the data revealed differences in spatial navigation abilities between genders as well as countries, with Nordic countries coming out on top.
      The goal was to identify the normal range of navigation skills among humans in general, throughout the world, and to then use this to develop a test or chart to profile people and spot dementia early through any deviance from the norm.
      "This is the only study of its kind, o