Saturday, 22 November 2008

Playing Chess May Benefit Schizophrenia Patients

(Clockwise from top left):
* Mathmetician John Nash
* Author Jack Kerouac
* Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green
* Musician Syd Barrett

Some welcome good news regarding mental illness and the benefits of playing chess.
A previous posting here of the quote attributed to Bill Hartston comes to mind.
By Mark Cowen
14 November 2008
J Affect Disord 2008: Advance online publication

MedWire News: Playing chess can help schizophrenia patients improve some of their mental abilities, results of a French study suggest.

Writing in the journal Schizophrenia Research, Dr Caroline Demily, from the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience in Bron, and colleagues explain: “Chess is a classic board game that relies on simple rules and complex cognitive [mental] strategies.”

To investigate whether playing chess can help improve the attention, planning and reasoning abilities, called executive function, of patients with schizophrenia, the researchers studied 26 patients with the disorder aged an average of 37 years.

Half the participants were assigned to participate in a chess-playing group while the others were not.
Patients assigned to play chess received a short introduction to the main rules of the game and played against each other twice a week in hourly sessions for 5 weeks under the supervision of an experienced player.

All the participants underwent mental ability tests before and after the 5-week period and continued to take their prescribed antipsychotic medications over the course of the study.

At the end of the study period, the researchers found that patients in the chess group showed greater improvements in their attention, planning and reasoning abilities than those in the other group.

“When considered together, our results suggest that playing chess for a mere 10 hours can restore (at least partially) executive functions of patients with schizophrenia,” Dr Demily and team conclude.They add: “It may be interesting to note that chess can be proposed easily – at almost no cost – to all psychotic patients. Most of the patients kept playing chess on their own, after completion of the study.”
[MedWire News Link]
Related Posts:
ALCHEssMIST: Scholastic Chess, Reasoning and Training Executive Function
ALCHEssMIST: Chess Research - Language Impairment and Visual Immediate Memory in Children

Tags: Caroline Demily - Chess - Jack Kerouac - John Nash - Mental Illness - Peter Green - Reasoning - Schizophrenia - Syd Barrett
Posted by ALCHEssMIST - Alchemipedia alliance.

Practical Application Of Cognitive Neuroscience - Succeeding In Competitions

Ogi Ogas puzzles over the $1 million question.
[Who Wants to Be a Cognitive Neuroscientist Millionaire?]
[Courtesy of Valleycrest Productions.]

This article in Seed Magazine by Ogi Ogas, describes how he used cognitive neuroscience techniques to win $500,000 (it could have been $1,000,000) on the American version of the television quiz show "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" Ogas, at the time of this article, was in his final year of the Cognitive Neuroscience Ph.D. program at Boston University. He describes the 3 cognitive techniques of (1) priming, (2) intuition and (3) theory of the mind, which helped him reach the $1,000,000 question. Below are lifted excerpts from the article illustrating the 3 techniques. It is well worthwhile reading the whole article [Who Wants to Be a Cognitive Neuroscientist Millionaire?].

"The priming of a memory occurs because of the peculiar "connectionist" neural dynamics of our cortex, where memories are distributed across many regions and neurons. If we can recall any fragment of a pattern, our brains tend to automatically fill in the rest."

"Cognitive models developed by my advisor Gail Carpenter suggest that a more effective way to evaluate an intuition is to consider its mnemonic associations. If you can mentally trace some of the cognitive links of an intuition (through a process similar to priming), these links may suggest whether the intuition is meaningfully connected to the correct answer or whether the link is trivial, incidental, or wrong. For example, given the question "Bucharest is the capital of what European country?", you might have an intuition that the answer is Hungary, because the actual capital of Hungary—Budapest—sounds like "Bucharest" and is thus unconsciously linked. In this case, naively following your unexamined intuition would lead you away from the correct response: Romania."

Theory of mind:
"... I considered another cognitive capacity explored in my department: theory of mind, the ability to imagine other people's perspectives. I contemplated the show's writers themselves, imagining them sitting at their keyboards composing three fake but credible answers. "Stuffy head" struck me as resembling the kind of manufactured distraction I might come up with."

The techniques discussed here have wide application, including competitive games.

Tags: Cognitive Neuroscience - Gail Carpenter - Intuition - Ogi Ogas - Priming - Theory Of Mind
Posted by ALCHEssMIST - Alchemipedia alliance.