HAS how much exercise can help sharpen the minds of brain sports athletes? The question is at the heart of a documentary, Mind Games. The Experiment, broadcast since January 19 on the Amazon Prime Video platform. Led by equipment manufacturer Asics, the scientific experiment, which involves a total of 77 people, was conducted by Brendon Stubbs, a researcher at King’s College London, who studies the links between physical activity and mental health.
the one hour and thirteen minute documentary follows the trajectory of four world-class competitors: a Japanese mahjong player, Ryoei Hirano; a British specialist in memory competitions, Ben Pridmore; and two Americans, a video game champion, Sherry Nan, and a chess master, Kassa Korley. They have in common to have in sight a major deadline in their discipline and, above all, a level of physical activity at the floor, lower than the thirty minutes daily recommended by the World Health Organization. And this, for months, even years. Thus, Ben Pridmore, 45, triple memory world champion in the 2000s, turns out to be in poor physical shape, unable at the start to chain a few strides or push-ups…
For sixteen weeks, they will benefit from a personalized training program supervised by a coach, with the aim of reaching one hundred and fifty minutes of weekly activity. Beforehand, and at the end of this period, their physical and cognitive parameters are measured objectively by a battery of tests. In the last minutes of the documentary are delivered some data suggesting a notable improvement in their cognitive indices. The young chess master has, in particular, progressed in the problem-solving tests (+50%); the player of street fighter, in short-term memory (+20%), with an anxiety level reduced by 50%. The memory athlete gained 40% in short-term memory and 75% in concentration.
10% increase in cognitive performance
The scientist Brendon Stubbs recites, in conclusion, some results relating to all of the 77 participants in the study, recruited in twenty countries. Their profile is comparable to that of the four heroes of the documentary: competitors in brain sports with a low level of physical activity for at least six months. Overall, their cognitive performance jumped by 10%, with favorable effects to varying degrees on various components.
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Source: Le Monde