Mahjong and Epilepsy

Can Mahjong induce epilepsy, like this story claims? Before I hear “I doubt it.” let me say I do too.

Here’s the story.

Anybody have any better source for this claim?

Not so much that mah-jong induced or caused the epilepsy in the first place, but that in a person with epilepsy it can serve as a trigger for seizures, like Mary Hart’s voice.

Some more explanation and links here

That still confuses me. Is it triggered by an emotional event, or just because they think of something like an a tile. The thought of the tile just triggers it for a weird reason? They have emotions associated with the game that trigger it?

It’s probably more complex than just seeing a tile or imagining playing the game. Consider the following hypothetical situation, and bear in mind that I am pulling it out of my butt because I’m not a mechanic:

A car has a slightly bad fuel injector, a slightly bad spark plug, and a couple of slightly bad sensors that might normally be able to compensate for the above. Individually, these faults would not reinforce each other, but under certain ‘unusual’ inputs like high temperature, high load, high altitude, and low octane gas, they feed back on each other and cause the engine to lose power. The upshot is that your car runs fine until you fill up at a particular gas station on the road to Las Vegas and drive up a mountain pass, hitting the ‘sweet spot’ at just the right moment. Then your car dies.

In the mah-jong case, the patient’s brain has some cluster of neurons that are linked, directly or indirectly, to motor planning, emotional, cognitive, visual, etc. centers. There is some combination of inputs to this cluster that cause it to start firing autonomously and trigger a seizure. It just so happens that the global ‘brain state’ of playing mah-jong fits the input trigger for these neurons. Seeing a tile is not sufficient; the emotional state of gambling is not sufficient; manipulating the tiles is not sufficient; it must be the whole shebang.

We may, each of us, have a similar cluster of neurons somewhere in our brains that would cause a seizure under particular conditions *that we never encounter, * like playing Bach on a banjo in a contest with the Devil with the fate of the human race at stake.

So basically a bad sector in the brain, when accessed equals seizure for these people.

The common vector of seizure is the brain going into a repetitive cycle is it not? An input that repeats in a steady cycle, is able to make the brain go into a repeating cycle. Example the flash of a strobe light, the drone of a repetitive noise. The seizure itself is a repeating cycle in the brain correct?

Although some seizure triggers are cyclic, like flashing lights, they do not have to be. The stimulus just has to set up a state in a particular cluster of neurons that causes them to fire off in a way that is independent of normal feedback controls. The output from that cluster then goes on to swamp the normal balance of other brain regions. The total area affected need not be the entire brain.

As for the seizure itself being a repeating cycle, I only sort of agree with that, but I’ll have to think about it a bit to see if I can explain why.

Strange! I would have actually thought that the culprit might have had something to do with the patterns on the tiles themselves, and that the rapid eye movement used while scanning the tiles triggered the seizures, not unlike the way falling snow can trigger seizures in people who are extremely photosensitive (the same way strobes do).

Interesting, though!

Some images can be disturbing to visual perception in a similar way to strobe lighting - I’m thinking of things like those optical illusions where the parts appear to be moving about or changing colour and you just can’t look at them without your eyes doing a sort of jerky stutter - many of these are based on grid patterns, so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to imagine that the grid pattern of a mah-jongg layout might cause similar visual disturbances, in some people. In fact, I was going to play mah-jongg on my computer last night, but stopped because it was making my eyes feel uncomfortable.

I get sick from a lot of visual cues, which never affected me before. I get almost instantly sick from the famous television trick of spin around a character, even if it’s slow.

Flashing back to a chorus of kvetching, kibitzing voices? :smiley:

I once saw a dog for a second opinion. The owner said the dog had stressed induced seizures. The dog hated people coming over to visit, and sure enough, every time the owner had company over, the dog would seizure.

The dog’s medical history included the fact that the owner tranquilized the dog any time she anticipated problems. She would give Acepromazine to the dog a half hour before company was due to arrive. Well, one side effect of the drug is that it lowers seizure threshold in epileptics. The owner was causing the seizures. Once she stopped the drug, everything was cool.

brossa I appreciate the effort you gave. I was just curious about the additional stuff I posted. I hope you took it as that only. Thanks for the responses people.