Baduk (the Game of Go) Improved Cognitive Function and Brain Activity in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Psychiatry Investig. 2014 Apr;11(2):143-51. doi: 10.4306/pi.2014.11.2.143. Epub 2014 Apr 11.


Objective: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms are associated with the deficit in executive functions. Playing Go involves many aspect of cognitive function and we hypothesized that it would be effective for children with ADHD.

Methods: Seventeen drug naïve children with ADHD and seventeen age and sex matched comparison subjects were participated. Participants played Go under the instructor's education for 2 hours/day, 5 days/week. Before and at the end of Go period, clinical symptoms, cognitive functions, and brain EEG were assessed with Dupaul's ADHD scale (ARS), Child depression inventory (CDI), digit span, the Children's Color Trails Test (CCTT), and 8-channel QEEG system (LXE3208, Laxtha Inc., Daejeon, Korea).

Results: There were significant improvements of ARS total score (z=2.93, p<0.01) and inattentive score (z=2.94, p<0.01) in children with ADHD. However, there was no significant change in hyperactivity score (z=1.33, p=0.18). There were improvement of digit total score (z=2.60, p<0.01; z=2.06, p=0.03), digit forward score (z=2.21, p=0.02; z=2.02, p=0.04) in both ADHD and healthy comparisons. In addition, ADHD children showed decreased time of CCTT-2 (z=2.21, p=0.03). The change of theta/beta right of prefrontal cortex during 16 weeks was greater in children with ADHD than in healthy comparisons (F=4.45, p=0.04). The change of right theta/beta in prefrontal cortex has a positive correlation with ARS-inattention score in children with ADHD (r=0.44, p=0.03).

Conclusion: We suggest that playing Go would be effective for children with ADHD by activating hypoarousal prefrontal function and enhancing executive function.

Keywords: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Baduk; Electroencephalography; Executive function; Go; Prefrontal cortex.