Edition: January 1st 2019, Written By: Russell M. Atwell
Chess is not, nor has it been proven to cure Alzheimer’s disease. But it may help prevent the detrimental symptoms of the widespread condition (Source: ABC News, NPR).
Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. Nearly 50 million people suffer from the condition worldwide, with the count expected to double every twenty years.
Alzheimer’s, linked to chess after some years of medical research, affects almost a whopping 1% of the world population. Dr. Robert Freidland, main author of a recent study which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered that elderly men and women who read or partake in mentally challenging games such as chess are two and half times less vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.
And the surprising benefits only start there. In a recent study involving 20 schizophrenic patients, doctors determined the efficiency of the board game in restoring cognitive and executive functions previously altered by the disease. Moreover, chess is scientifically credited to precipitating the growth of dendrites for better cell function, and exercising both sides of the human brain, sparking creativity and general inclination towards the arts on the left hemisphere of the brain, and improving logical thinking (e.g. mathematical, scientific) on the right side. Memory and increased focus are known by-products of the general changes.
The perks extend to the younger generation, exposing the youth to the possibility of improved IQ, firmly reinforcing thinking and problem-solving skills, and sparking immense creativity that overall aids in growth. The nature of the game will also provoke a better sense of planning and foresight, eliciting an overall sense of control and understanding of one’s choices and consequences.
Besides brain-reshaping perks, chess has other natural by-products that also enhance well-being, namely bringing people together, and instilling a good game spirit. At the very least, it teaches us how to win and lose, and accept the consequences of our decisions.