ENGLAND – Playing mobile games can generate vital data on cognitive health, according to new research.

Spearheaded by a team at the University of Kent the research shows that the early signs of conditions like dementia can be detected from the way people play the games. Response time and flexibility can be gauged through the ‘patterns of tap, swipe and rotational gesture’ to assess brain function.

In tests participants played Tetris, Candy Crush Saga and Fruit Ninja. Sensors built into the phone collected data that the team showed demonstrated the link between movements during play and their corresponding cognitive performance.

Dr Jim Ang, who is a senior lecturer in multimedia/digital systems, said: “We are very encouraged by the results of our study and have since collected data from patients who showed signs of brain damage. This additional analysis reinforced the conclusions of our original research. We’re now working to design an algorithm which can carry out automatic monitoring of individuals’ cognitive performance while playing these games.”

A number of studies have also revealed many health benefits associated with gaming, such as improving education and boosting cognitive health in older people.