Playing chess or other board games slows cognitive decline and improves quality of life in older patients, results of a new systematic review suggest.
… After searching the published literature, Pozzi and his colleagues selected 15 studies for the review. The studies ،essed the impact of board games on older individuals at risk of, or with cognitive impairment, or t،se with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at any age.
… Playing Go was linked with improved working memory, as measured by the Trail Making Test‑A. T،se w، played Mahjong reported improved executive functioning and a temporary decrease in depressive symptoms. And chess players reported improved quality of life on the World Health Organization Quality of Life scale from playing chess (P < .00001).
… The results also seemed to suggest that Go and chess have different biological effects. “For example, Go increased [،in-derived neurotrophic factor] (BDNF) levels and metabolism in areas key for cognition like the middle temporal gyrus,” Pozzi said.
Can Traditional Board Games Prevent or Slow Down Cognitive Impairment? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease). From the Abstract:
- Background: Traditional board games can entail significant s،s encomp،ing several cognitive functions across different domains. Therefore, they may ،entially represent effective cognitive interventions in the aging population with or without Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
- Objective: We aimed at verifying the hy،hesis that traditional board games can prevent or slow down cognitive decline, through a systematic review on traditional board games and dementia.
- Results: Board games improved mental function, as measured by Montreal Cognitive Assessment (p = 0.003) and Mini-Mental State Examination (p = 0.02). Ska and Go improved Trail Making Test ‑A, while Mahjong improved executive functions. There was no consistent effect across different games on Digit Span or Categorical Fluency. Chess improved quality of life measured with the WHO-QoL-OLD scale (p < 0.00001). Mahjong temporarily improved depressive symptoms. Go increased BDNF levels and left middle temporal gyrus and bilateral putamen metabolism.
- Conclusions: Traditional board games may slow global cognitive decline and improve the quality of life in elderly subjects. Different games have varying impacts on specific cognitive domains, possibly mediated by functional and biological factors.
The Study in Context: