£1.9m from the National Institute for Health and Care Research has been allocated to the study.
A new app is being launched to monitor the brain health of older people.
Data will be relayed to GPs who will use it to identify those who require further clinical assessment.
The aim is to reach people with early signs of mild cognitive impairment who would not otherwise visit a doctor.
The study, which launches in October, is due to last for five years. 1000 individuals aged 40 and above will participate.
If successful, approval may be granted to make the app available for free to the general public via the NHS.
Games for the brain
Participants in the study will have access to up to 12 different games.
The puzzles will test short and long-term memory, reaction time, attention and reasoning skills.
Users will then complete a test every six months and have their scores tracked. Anyone whose scores decline (outside of normal parameters) will be flagged by the system.
Anne Corbett, Associate Professor of Dementia Research at the University of Exeter, said: “We know that 99 per cent of people with early signs of problems with their memory and brain health are not seen by a doctor. Yet these are the people who will benefit the most from early assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
“Computerised tests of brain health are far more sensitive and accurate than traditional paper-and-pencil tests and using an app means we can reach large numbers of people in an affordable way.
“This programme of research is a major step forward towards better brain health for older adults, harnessing the best technology to support people and doctors alike.
“It will give us vital information about how to fill the current gaps in healthcare in ageing and provide a valuable new tool to improve health and wellbeing for older adults in the NHS.”
The PROTECT study
The app is being developed as part of PROTECT, an online study open to anyone aged 40 and over.
In PROTECT annual questionnaires relating to lifestyle are used alongside cognitive testing to determine what keeps the brain healthy in later life.
To find out more or sign up, visit their website.