Can Chess Check-mate Alzheimer's?

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Russian chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov pits his skills against French rival Joel Lautier. It's all part of a scientific experiment to determine if intellectual work can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's Disease. The researchers want to test the theory that the brain will stay healthy longer if kept engaged with mental and physical exercise.

An intellectual challenge to tax the brain -- this is international chess in the name of science.

Russian grandmaster Anatoly Karpov lead a team in Nice - against French counterpart Joel Lautier - in Moscow -- to see if chess can protect against Alzheimer's Disease.

The scientists monitored the players brain activity as they struggled with complex moves, measuring their emotional and psychological reactions and stress levels.

The researchers believe the intellectual rigours of chess could provide the perfect antidote to Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, according to Professor Philippe Robert.

[Professor Philippe Robert, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis]:
"This is not only memory disturbances but there are other cognitive functions that are impaired. For instance attentional processes, or the fact... The organizational strategy in front of a task. And in chess, you have all these components."

More than 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer's Disease and with a rapidly ageing population, especially in industrialised countries, the figure is expected to double in the next 20 years.

[Professor Philippe Robert, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis]:
"This type of serious game is a protecting factor in order to have a normal cognitive functioning even in the elderly. If you have a normal cognitive functioning, you fight against AD, Alzheimer 's disease."

For three decades, Karpov has been at the top of a game he says is like a mental workout.

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