Sudoku and other puzzles have been praised as a good way to keep your mind sharp and your brain healthy.
But for one student, the number game was less than helpful; in fact, Sudoku triggered his seizures.
Doctors and researchers described this unusual case Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology. The German authors write that a 25-year-old male physical education student had been buried by an avalanche during a ski tour and was deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen for 15 minutes.
He subsequently developed myoclonus, or involuntary jerking. The brief twitching of muscles in his mouth and both legs was triggered by talking and walking. His arms weren't affected.
Weeks later, the authors write, the student was trying to solve Sudoku puzzles. That's when the seizures began.
As he imagined the puzzles in a three-dimensional manner, he developed clonic seizures, or rapid contractions of the muscles in his left arm. The seizures "stopped immediately when the Sudoku puzzle was discontinued," the authors write.
So what was going on here? Well, the loss of oxygen most likely caused damage to certain regions of the patient's brain, the authors write.
"Similar seizures could be elicited by other visual-spatial tasks like sorting random numbers in an ascending order, but not by reading, writing or calculating alone," they write.
Unsurprisingly, this patient stopped playing Sudoku puzzles. He's been seizure-free for more than five years.