Stall Catchers: Citizen Scientists Speeding Alzheimer’s Research

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Researching Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias can’t happen fast enough for individuals diagnosed nor their families. Here’s a way for you to be involved and help the researchers speed up that research.

What is Stall Catchers?

Stall Catchers is something resembling a video game played by regular people like you and me is helping researchers increase the speed at which Alzheimer’s data is analyzed.

Stall Catchers is an interactive online experience. Basically a “game” designed to support Alzheimer’s researchers. Volunteers (Citizen Scientists!) watch snippets of of very short x-ray movies of rats’ brains looking for the blockages that cause Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.

Make no mistake. Calling this a game IS NOT trivializing the important work taking place inside this game-like wrapper. What you are about to learn is very important scientific work being done to advance the state of Alzheimer’s (and all dementia, for that matter) research!

stall catchers
Courtesy Stall Catchers

When a blockage is found, the Citizen Scientist makes a notation that is compiled with many others who are looking at the same X-ray. The results of these notations guide scientists in their research considerably more effectively that not having this information.

Strength in Numbers

It’s not that researchers can’t do this. They of course can analyze these video clips as well as anyone. But it’s a numbers game. There are considerably more data files and videos than there are researchers. The best part? They’ve created an easy way for all of us to lend a hand.

For example, when a given movie has received a considerable number of stalled ratings from Citizen Scientists, it gives the researchers a clue that a more detailed look into that situation is warranted. We do the pre-screening to free them up to do the scientific heavy lifting.

The best part? No experience is necessary!

“Catchers” range from 6 to 88 years old. Many are middle school students, seniors, caregivers, as well as individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Anyone who can view a movie snippet, inspect a particular area on the screen, and provide feedback can assist the researchers!

Here’s a quick, three minute introduction that tells it all:

Stall Catchers “Quick Facts”

  • Stall Catchers is the first Citizen Science game where the public is directly engaged in analyzing Alzheimer’s disease research data.
  • At this time, over 44,000 Catchers are participating in the program, and are part of over 750 teams (see invitation below!)
  • Practically any reasonably modern, Internet-connected device (computer or tablets are better than phones due to larger screens) can be used – this is not an app; you use your browser.
  • Alzheimer’s treatment research targets have already been reduced from decades to just a few years with the help of Citizen Scientists.
  • Stall Catchers players have already doubled the speed of Cornell’s data analysis.
  • It currently takes 7 annotations per vessel on average to determine a reliable crowd score.
  • Stall Catchers can be played by anyone, and any contribution, big or small, can make a difference!

The Science Behind the Game

stall catchers
Courtesy Stall Catchers

Science has told us for some time that a reduction in the brain’s blood flow is directly associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. With more recent advances in imaging technology and techniques, opportunities to look much closer at the offending blood vessels are now possible.

With that newfound ability to look closer came a valuable collaboration with the Schaffer-Nishimura Lab at Cornell University. Through this collaboration, it was discovered that stalls – or blockages – might be responsible for the progression of Alzheimer’s.

It was also discovered that reversing these blockages (stalls) in mice reduces the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as cognitive decline and mood changes. But it is also acknowledged that much more time-consuming work is needed.

Who is behind Stall Catchers?

Stall Catchers is the first “game” from the Human Computational Institute. It was developed under the EyesOnALZ project and is currently one of five active projects. Stall Catchers is specifically designed to enable all of us to contribute to Alzheimer’s research and is supported by BrightFocus’ Alzheimer’s Disease Research program.

The EyesOnALZ project includes collaborators and advisors from the Schaffer-Nishimura Lab at Cornell University, stardust@home team at U.C. Berkeley,, and others. There are many highly talented groups working on this critical issue and the best part is we can join in!

Memory Cafe Activity? Stimulated At Home Activity?

Absolutely! Depending on the overall cognitive abilities of your loved one living with dementia, Stall Catchers can be a perfect Memory Cafe activity or one to enjoy at home. Regular care partner teams (or change them up, if that works for them!) can work together to find those pesky stalls.

While this does take some concentration, it is certainly a task we can all perform.

stall catchers
Courtesy Stall Catchers

Join Team!

Stall Catchers allows individuals to contribute and earn points by themselves, or join a team of like-minded Citizen Scientists. Team has been a very successful team, rising to one of the Top 10 teams in the world!

After being involved with Stall Catchers for quite some time, I believe more strongly than ever about the potential this holds to advance the state of Alzheimer’s Disease research. That potential is limited only by the amount of participation we can muster.

Dementia Map is a global resource directory for the dementia community I co-founded with Lori La Bey of Alzheimer’s Speaks.

We can work together to advance Alzheimer’s Disease research!
Join me on Team!


Existing Stall Catchers

If you are already a Stall Catchers player, THANK YOU! Please consider joining Team

  • From your main “Catch” page, click on your profile in the upper right corner.
  • Select Teams to display all 400+ teams currently participating
  • In the Search window at the upper right, type “” to find the team
  • Click the green “JOIN” button to the right

New Stall Catchers

If you’re not already participating, please click through here and sign up. You will automatically be joined to Team You saw part of the simple sign up process in the video above.

Here’s the actual link:

You can right click the link and copy it to share on social media, via email, or your own website. Please share it with all your family, friends, and colleagues and let’s band together as Citizen Scientists to advance the state of Alzheimer’s Disease research!

Warning! Addictive Potential!

OK, that may be a bit dramatic. However, I must be honest that when I’ve been “Catching Stalls” I may or may not have said that I would do “just one more” more times than I would like to admit. That may be a problem for my sleep performance, but I will gladly do it again… and again… and again!

Please take a look at Stall Catchers. You can do valuable critically-important Citizen Science while gaining some meditation benefits of laser-focusing your attention for brief periods of time.

If this is for you, please join Team and catch some stalls!

Thank you!