The Smart Aging Platform for Assessing Early Phases of Cognitive Impairment in Patients With Neurodegenerative Diseases

Sara Bottiroli, Sara Bernini, Elena Cavallini, Elena Sinforiani, Chiara Zucchella, Stefania Pazzi, Paolo Cristiani, Tomaso Vecchi, Daniela Tost, Giorgio Sandrini, Cristina Tassorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Smart Aging is a serious game (SG) platform that generates a 3D virtual reality environment in which users perform a set of screening tasks designed to allow evaluation of global cognition. Each task replicates activities of daily living performed in a familiar environment. The main goal of the present study was to ascertain whether Smart Aging could differentiate between different types and levels of cognitive impairment in patients with neurodegenerative disease. Methods: Ninety-one subjects (mean age = 70.29 ± 7.70 years)-healthy older adults (HCs, n = 23), patients with single-domain amnesic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI, n = 23), patients with single-domain executive Parkinson's disease MCI (PD-MCI, n = 20), and patients with mild Alzheimer's disease (mild AD, n = 25)-were enrolled in the study. All participants underwent cognitive evaluations performed using both traditional neuropsychological assessment tools, including the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Montreal Overall Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), and the Smart Aging platform. We analyzed global scores on Smart Aging indices (i.e., accuracy, time, distance) as well as the Smart Aging total score, looking for differences between the four groups. Results: The findings revealed significant between-group differences in all the Smart Aging indices: accuracy (p < 0.001), time (p < 0.001), distance (p < 0.001), and total Smart Aging score (p < 0.001). The HCs outperformed the mild AD, aMCI, and PD-MCI patients in terms of accuracy, time, distance, and Smart Aging total score. In addition, the mild AD group was outperformed both by the HCs and by the aMCI and PD-MCI patients on accuracy and distance. No significant differences were found between aMCI and PD-MCI patients. Finally, the Smart Aging scores significantly correlated with the results of the neuropsychological assessments used. Conclusion: These findings, although preliminary due to the small sample size, suggest the validity of Smart Aging as a screening tool for the detection of cognitive impairment in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635410
JournalFront. Psychol.
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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