Study: VR stimulates memories, improves quality of life for dementia patients

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Dementia patients who used virtual reality headsets to "travel" to different environments were able to recall previously inaccessible memories and saw improvements in their moods and social interactions, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Kent in the U.K. enlisted eight patients at a psychiatric facility with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's to participate in the study. Each patient had two 15-minute sessions with the VR headset, with which they could view a cathedral, a forest, a sandy beach, a rocky beach or a countryside scene.

According to the researchers, some of the virtual environments stimulated old memories, which, when shared with caregivers, then improved the patients' social interactions. Others repeatedly expressed how much they enjoyed the VR experience, indicating positive effects on their moods and, altogether, overall quality of life.

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