Monday, September 04, 2006

ABC News: How Chess Can Help Stave Off Alzheimer's

I was glad to see the game of chess getting some good press this morning - or any kind of press for that matter :-) - on the September 4, Labor Day edition of ABC's "Good Morning, America."

The lead in to the segment was "It is one of the most beloved games in the world... and it [may help] to prevent Alzheimer’s disease..."

The interview was with best-selling author David Shenk, who has written a new book on the history of chess titled "The Immortal Game." He has also written a book on Alzheimer's disease. When asked about the connection between the two he responded:

"Everyone in the Alzheimer's community is searching for a way to prevent Alzheimer's and it turns out that one important way - it's not a sure fire way - but you need to use your brain. As you get older, particularly, you need to exercise your brain in any way and the more exercise you get in your brain - it's just like keeping fit and keeping your body fit - the better off you are, the better chance you stand for preventing diseases like Alzheimer's.”

“Chess turns out to be a particularly good brain builder for this..."

Here's an excerpt from the web site:

How Chess Can Help Stave Off Alzheimer's
Writer David Shenk Traces the History of Chess in 'The Immortal Game'

Sept. 4, 2006 — In a wide-ranging examination of chess, David Shenk uncovers the hidden history of a game that was invented in India around 500 A.D. and seems more popular than ever today.

From its enthusiastic adoption by the Persians and its spread by Islamic warriors, to its 21st century importance to the development of artificial intelligence and use as a teaching tool in inner-city America, chess has been a omnipresent factor in the development of civilization.

Research shows that brain is much like the body — it needs continual activity to remain strong and supple and fight off the predations of old age. And researchers have determined that chess is uniquely well-suited to "exercising" the brain. It is simple to play, but offers nearly limitless variation.

It requires memory, problem-solving skills, abstract thought, and creativity. And it turns out that the people who play it regularly in their older years — along with related activities like crossword puzzles — are less likely to develop Alzheimer's and related conditions

You can read the entire article and an excerpt for Shenk's new book "The Immortal Game" here: How Chess Can Help Stave Off Alzheimer's.

The author's website can be found here: "The Immortal Game"

The book can be ordered here: The Immortal Game: A History of Chess, or How 32 Carved Pieces on a Board Illuminated Our Understanding of War, Art, Science and the Human Brain (Hardcover) by David Shenk

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