A Bridge To Better Health? – playing games could be healthy

A Bridge To Better Health? – playing games could be healthy – Brief Article

Gabriel Berezin

FIGHTING OFF A COLD? TRY DEALING OUT A HAND OF BRIDGE. NEW RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT THE TYPES OF MENTAL TASKS THE GAME REQUIRES MAY WORK TO STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.

According to Marian Diamond, Ph.D., an integrative biology professor at the University of California at Berkeley, the dorsolateral cortex–part of the brain associated with strategy and working memory–may communicate with the immune system. Initially, Diamond studied mice that were missing their thymus glands, which are essential in developing the body’s immune system. She learned that mice without these glands had thinner dorsolateral cortexes than those of normal mice, and they could not properly produce immune cells. Wondering if the dorsolateral cortex plays a role in the human immune system, Diamond asked three groups of women to play contract bridge, a game that requires planning ahead, sequencing numbers, judgment and working memory–all brain functions that involve the dorsolateral cortex.

After closely monitoring their immune response through-out an hour of bridge-playing, Diamond learned that two of the three groups of women showed a marked increase of disease-fighting CD4 T cells, while women who simply listened to soft music and chatted for an hour showed no surge in their immune systems. “This part of the cortex deals with higher cognitive processing, possibly allowing the individual to have some voluntary control of his or her well-being,” Diamond says.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group