Diagnosing illnesses early is always ideal, but traditional screening methods such as x-rays or lab work can be extraordinarily expensive. In the case of Akili Interactive Labs' Project Evo, profiled by IEEE Spectrum, determining a patient's susceptibility to Alzheimer's might be aided by an iOS app.

For as challenging as achieving its goal is, Project Evo seems simplistic from a player's perspective - in the game, gyroscope controls are used to guide an alien down a river. Birds and fish appear during the journey, and players must tap the screen according to the species Project Evo asks them to respond to.

IEEE Spectrum explains that modern PET scans provide estimates of amyloid plaque levels in a patient's brain, which are used to help assess whether the patient is at risk of Alzheimer's. Akili Interactive began a trial with pharmaceutical company Pfizer in March, which involves comparing the success of Project Evo's players with high and low amyloid plaque levels. If a trend surfaces in relation to Project Evo aptitude and amyloid levels in the brain, Project Evo may work as a supplementary screening tool for Alzheimer's.

Akili is also conducting trials with Project Evo that research ADHD, autism and depression. Akili Vice President Eddie Martucci explained that the common link between identifying each disorder lies in interference processing, a multitasking-oriented skill used while playing Project Evo. Proficiency with interference processing deteriorates with age, and Martucci explained that a low competency at that skill may allow other goal-oriented abilities to degrade, leaving patients susceptible to further problems.
[Image: Akili Interactive Labs]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.