Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Doctor Garry is In





Ah, the old "Claiming of 'Many Studies' Without Troubling Oneself To Actually Cite Any" Gambit ...





Not sure who that EJHChess bloke is. Anyhoo let’s stick to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for today, if for no other reason than until recently I had a professional interest in the field. Those of you unable to wait for the 'great expert' to vouchsafe to Garry his wisdom might like to take a peek at the search results returned for "chess" on the Alzheimer’s Society website.





15 comments:

Andrew Gelman said...

Speaking of Kasparov, whatever happened to this book? (Or, should I say, ??)

Jonathan B said...

UPDATE:
Garcia’s consultation: no studies claimed. It’s based on him having a chat with some doctors last year.

https://twitter.com/leontxogarcia/status/466464388179050497

Anonymous said...

It is a bit sad that people try to promote chess at any cost, rather than genuinely on its merits. Personally, I do know that there is a study that shows that in patients suffering from dementia, by keeping the brain active, you can stop (or prolong) further deterioration. It was done in Japan using Capture Go, music, and other stimulations...

ejh said...

You couldn't provide us with a title, author(s) or anything else?

ejh said...

Andrew - you mean this? Dunno. Looks like it was never published unless any other readers know better.

Anonymous said...

ejh: Although it does sound like hand waving horseshit, if you actually do some research on dementia, you do find that keeping the brain active, or stimulated, is said to help prolong the deterioration.

ejh said...

This I know. It's just that the "said" tends to be the most evident part. And a lot of claims are being made in relation to chess and dementia which turn out to be based on slender or non-existent evidence.

(We may get back to this, and such questions as what the Verghese study does and does not say, in the future.)

Dscaper said...

Keeping in mind the original post made by Garry, here's NIH.gov and what they had to say 7 years after the Verghese...

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/apr2010/od-28.htm

Nothing "improves" AZ - it just destroys.

Jonathan B said...

It is a bit sad that people try to promote chess at any cost, rather than genuinely on its merits.

Sad, yes, but much worse than that too. A theme to which I’ll return as soon as I have time.

Also: yes, there’s the concept of "cognitive reserve" which (briefly stated), means that a more intellectually stimulating life (in whatever fashion) can delay onset of dementia - or at least mask the appearance of it.

Not at all the same thing as saying that chess has benefits regarding dementia still less that it 'improves' it or delays it or slows it down or anything else.

Ian Kingston said...

I did some PubMed searches to see if there was anything in the literature relating to either Down Syndrome or dementia/Alzheimers. The only thing that I came up with is this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20193195

which suggests that chess (among many other activities) may delay the onset of dementia.

Apart from that passing mention, there's nothing in the medical literature.

Keeping the brain active as a way to postpone the onset of dementia is obviously plausible, but there's nothing special about chess in this respect.

As for Down Syndrome: no research at all.

Jonathan B said...

RE: Ian’s link ...


I believe I’ve come across that reference before. The studying taking place in China begs the question of whether the participants were playing what we know as chess or - more likely - a different game altogether.

If we assume - in absence of being able to actually find out - it was Chinese Chess and not Western chess we might then feel that the results could suggest that we’d get similar results with *our* version of the game. It seems rather sloppy, to say the least, to simply assume that.

And, needless to say, if we don’t actually know what game the study covers then it’s pretty much without value in terms of any scientific debate.

Jonathan B said...

Ian’s link in clickable format for those disinclined to cut and paste.

Anonymous said...

Is this blog arguing because chess does not give health benefits higher than those associated with other ways of staying mentally active, it should not make any claim of having a positive effect?

If that is the argument, I find it a bit odd. For example, most sports claim the health benefits of physical activity.

Paul C

ejh said...

No, it's arguing

1. that people shouldn't claim that studies exist that don't exist; and

2. that people shouldn't claim those studies which do exist say things that in fact they do not say.

Jonathan B said...

Hello Paul,

Your comment implies that there are health benefits of playing chess and 'other ways of staying mentally active'. Whether that’s true or not in general, it’s an extremely problematic assumption with regard to dementia.

Neither chess nor anything else 'improves' dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease as Kasaparov states. Dementia is a deteriorating condition. The very best you can hope for is to slow down the rate of decline.

To use chess to say otherwise is more than ’sad’ I would say.