Post Thu Mar 07, 2013 5:08 pm

Playing chess may benefit schizophrenia patients

: 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.”