Essay on mahjong and the brain

For example, according to a report from China Daily, the year-old Wu Xiuqiong claims that mahjong "has kept her mind sharp and has contributed to her longevity" Liu. Although it sounds absurd, a variety of research has been done to prove that the accounts by my grandma and Mrs. Wu are by no means nonsense or mere superstition. Due to a variety of brain activities involved in this game, including calculation, memory, executive function and strategic thinking, the effect of playing mahjong on cognitive functioning has gained the interests of researchers over the past few years.

Various studies have shown that playing mahjong is conducive to mental function and could prevent or even cure dementia, the symptom of losing memory commonly suffered by older people.

Essay on mahjong and the brain

For example, an exploratory study was conducted by Sheung-Tak Cheng, Alfred Chan and Edwin Yu in to investigate the effect of mahjong on the cognitive functioning of people with dementia. The researchers invited sixty-two older people "who met DSM-IV diagnosis of any dementia condition" to engage in the activity of mahjong for sixteen weeks. They even recommend mahjong as an alternative therapy to traditional pharmacological treatment due to the minimum side-effects and low costs.

In this way, the activity of playing mahjong is shown to be beneficial in treating diseases like dementia. A similar study was conducted in Japan in However, this study focused on eighty-nine elderly participants without formal diagnosis of dementia.

Essay On Mahjong And The Brain

Researchers suggest "potentially positive effects of mahjong on brain activities," which highlights the preventative power of mahjong from dementia Machishima These studies really highlight the value of playing mahjong in combating cognitive diseases and prove the benefit of mahjong, especially for elderly communities. In addition to the effect on cognitive functioning and treating dementia, playing Mahjong can also improve movement and physical coordination for older people.

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Although it is a static activity, mahjong actually requires significant hand movements and body reactions in shuffling, drawing and discarding the tiles with both speed and accuracy. They investigated the effect of playing mahjong on eye-hand coordination, an essential perceptual-motor function that declines with aging. Forty-one people in a community of older adults were tested on their abilities to "point quickly and accurately" towards both a stationary and a moving visual target.

It was found that the mahjong players demonstrated "significantly better end-point accuracy" and "shorter reaction times" Tsang The researchers state the "precise hand skills" required in this game with "building up blocks of tiles, getting a tile from a particular block and claiming a tile from the table" contribute to dexterity in hand movement and coordination Tsang This finding indicates another significant health benefit of playing mahjong and suggests the potential for this game in contributing to physical therapies and rehabilitations.

Not only for treating the clinical diseases, playing mahjong also improves the mental health of older people. Due to their retirement, older people are inclined to feel lonely and excluded from communities. Some mental illnesses they suffer from such as depression and hypochondriasis can be the result of this feeling of loneliness. As the study "Loneliness, depression and sociability in old age" conducted by psychologists Archana Singh and Nishi Misra notes, "there was a significant correlation between loneliness and depression in the elderly people" Singh In response to that, the game of mahjong can effectively act as a social outlet for seniors to engage in communities, therefore reducing their loneliness and depression.

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To illustrate this point, the social scientist Kam-shing Yip offers a first-hand account of working with elderly people with depression. He helped his patient Mrs. Lam to identify mahjong as a source of strength to deal with the symptom of depression and hypochondriasis. Instead of using medicine or other complicated therapy, Yip only suggested the children of Mrs.

Lam to play mahjong with her as well as invite the neighbors to participate. Lam eventually recovered. As Yip indicates, the game of mahjong brings elderly people "integration and interaction within their own community," which can either prevent or cure them from anxiety and depression Yip Also, this finding testifies to my grandma's experience of anxiety and the happiness she identifies in playing mahjong. This game enables her to engage with family members and friends, therefore reducing the sense of isolation associated with health anxiety and instilling a sense of well-being. By improving mental health and reducing the risk of depression, mahjong-playing contributes to the higher life expectancy among elderly group.

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Despite the ample studies showing the health benefits of mahjong among older people, the game of mahjong receives little credit in bringing benefits to young people. This lack of research can be explained by the lack of popularity of this game among young people. According to a survey conducted in Hong Kong, "only 2 per cent of those between 18 and 24" played mahjong as a leisure activity Yeung. Partly due to the popularity among elderly people, younger generations often mistakenly consider this game as exclusively for retired seniors who have nothing fun to do.

Most of my friends do not play mahjong because they think it is so outdated. Another reason for the unpopularity of mahjong among younger generations ties back to the negative stereotypes of indulgence and gambling associated with this game. The cartoonist and winner of the Printz Award Gene Luen Yang complained about his father's objection to his burgeoning interest in mahjong: "Mahjong is for kids who won't have jobs when they grow up" Yang. The negative perception of mahjong as something useless indirectly prevents young people from experiencing even knowing this game.

I also remember during my primary school, I was often expurgated from the mahjong table and prevented from playing this game by my parents.

Essay on mahjong and the brain

Instead, they registered me for abacus classes to cultivate my talents in mathematics and harshly reproached me when I only used the abacus as a skateboard. They never realized I could practice mathematics simply by joining the game of mahjong.

Even by watching them play, I participated in the calculation of melds and the computation of the scores. Besides being a substitute for LEGOs, the game of mahjong was also an early enlightenment for my mathematical and analytical brain as an accountancy and math major. Given the calculation and mental activities involved in this game, it is such a shame that mahjong is undervalued as a possible intellectual activity for young people. Moreover, mahjong can even be superior to other traditional intellectual games like chess and Go in bringing intellectual benefits. According to mathematicians Yuan Cheng and Chi-Kwong: "Mahjong is different from chess and Go because the players do not have the full information of other players during the game.

One needs to anticipate what other players are hiding in their hands and create their own game plan" Cheng Yuan About Mahjong Mahjong is a popular game for four players that originated in China. Especially for elders, social intercourse is quite important for them. As senior will always feel disheartened if they become isolated. Mahjong is one activity that can give them a social outlet with people their own age. They can meet friends or be at a relative's home to play, or they can play in a senior center or even a nursing home.

In addition, due to the use of brain and concentrating for the game will make people feel the time flies faster. So playing mahjong is a good activity for killing time as well. For those people who do not like outdoor activity, playing mahjong would also be a good choice for them, since it is a static but exciting indoor activity. Cons of playing mahjong On the other side, mahjong also creates negative impact to those who get addicted with it.

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As playing mahjong requires players to sit for long time, and their neck is often bent forward, so it may lead to some spinal problem. The heavy burden on the waist and the squeezing to muscle nerve may easily lead to back pain as well. Also, people who like to play mahjong are relatively easy to get myopia as they need to stare on the tiles that opponents discarded in order not to miss any tiles they needed.