Chess experts use specific brain circuits


Bobby Fischer

Experts use different parts of their brains than amateurs, maximizing intuition, goal-seeking and pattern-recognition, said a study that examined players of shogi, or Japanese chess.

Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to compare the brain activity of amateurs and professionals who were presented with various shogi board patterns and were told to think of their next move.

They found that certain regions of expert brains lit up, while the amateurs’ did not, said the research led by Japanese scientist Xiaohong Wan and published in the journal Science.

Speed chess uses different brain areas. When they asked players to mull their next move, experts’ brains showed more activity in the area associated with visualising images and episodic memory, known as the precuneus area of the parietal lobe.

When pressed to come up quickly with a move, activity surged in another region called the caudate nucleus, where goal-directed behaviour is rooted.

“This activation did not occur in the amateurs or when either group took their time in planning their next move,” said the study.

via COSMOS magazine.

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2 Responses to Chess experts use specific brain circuits

  1. Each different set of circumstances calls for a certain thought process. And of course stronger players approach the game much differently than amateurs.

  2. Deskarati says:

    Good point Ken, makes you wonder where the cross over point might be.

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