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Research on mahjong triggering seizures

23 August, 2007

A study by doctors in Hong Kong has concluded that the Chinese tile game of mahjong can cause seizures.

The
findings, published in the Hong Kong Medical Journal, were based on 23
cases of people who had suffered mahjong-induced seizures.

The report's four authors, from Queen Mary Hospital, said the best prevention was to avoid playing the game.

The
study led the doctors to define mahjong epilepsy as a unique syndrome.
The game, played by four people around a table, can involve gambling
and can quickly become compulsive.

The game, which is
intensely social and sometimes played in crowded mahjong parlours,
involves the rapid movement of tiles in marathon sessions.

The
doctors concluded that the syndrome affects far more men than women;
that their average age is 54; and that seizures can happen any time
between one to 11 hours into a mahjong game.

They said the attacks were not just caused by sleep deprivation or gambling stress.

The
cognitive demands of the game, which draws on memory, fast
calculations, concentration, reasoning and sequencing, along with the
design of the tiles and sound of them hitting the table, may contribute
to the syndrome.