Magdeburg (Germany), February 21st, 2019. With the help of a free app everyone can now contribute to the research of cognition. The app is part of the citizen-science project “Exploring memory together - which factors influence memory function in everyday life”. The scientific focus will be on how sleep quality and flu-like infections affect memory performance. The project is a cooperation of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the Institute of Cognitive Neurology and Dementia Research (IKND) of the University Hospital Magdeburg and the neotiv GmbH as project initiator. It brings innovative digital methods from fundamental research to the population.
Using the app for smartphones and tablets (Android and iOS), participants can regularly carry out cognitive tests and health questionnaires. There is increasing evidence that lifestyle changes and health factors affect our memory performance. In order to better understand these influences it is necessary to track memory performance in everyday life over longer periods of time.
"The use of easily accessible digital applications in research makes it possible to address challenging research questions," says Professor Emrah Düzel, Site Speaker of the DZNE in Magdeburg and co-founder of neotiv. "Research is integrated playfully into the everyday life of the population and information that was previously not accessible can be obtained. For example, it is difficult to monitor the effects of a cold on cognition in a controlled clinical environment.”
The app shows pictures and prompts to memorize the position of displayed objects. “Our tests are based on the latest findings in brain research. However, the app is not a tool for self-diagnosis. The app does not make statements about possible memory problems,” Düzel emphasizes.
The innovative approach of the project combines results from basic and clinical research and the digitalization of medicine in a unique way. It also enables interaction with citizens. In addition, the interests of the users and the education and sensitization for risk factors of Alzheimer's, as one of the widespread diseases of our time, also play an important role. The project contributes to the long-term improvement of methods for prevention and early diagnosis.
After installing the app, users can perform weekly memory tests. These tests are based on current research findings, last about 10 minutes and are supplemented by health questionnaires. All data and measured values are anonymised and treated in accordance with the latest data protection guidelines. The data are evaluated by the DZNE and the IKND as scientific project partners.
The state of Saxony-Anhalt has supported the initiative since its first piloting, with Petra Grimm-Benne, Minister for Labour, Social Affairs and Integration, as its patron. The state actively promotes basic neuroscientific research in order to play a pioneering role in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.