Chess and the Brain (3 Studies)

Study of change in brain activity due to blood flow while playing Shogi (Japanese chess).
Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol. 2010 Apr-Jun;50(3-4):137-48.
Ogata K, Honda N.
Dept. of System Engineering, The University of Electro-Communications, Choufugaoka 1-5-1, Chofu City, Tokyo 182-8585, Japan.

BACKGROUND: The study of brain activity has been studied with the use of various techniques like electroencephalography (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission topography (PET) and magneto-encephalography (MEG). These techniques are unsuitable because of restriction of moving of subject’s body while playing “shogi (Japanese Chess)” matching However, optical topography (OT) is possible to measure. Therefore, brain activity is here studied with use of OT.
MATERIALS AND METHOD: The measurement and analyses of the activity of brain is carried out by cerebral blood flow with use of OT. The equipment of OP is 16-channel maximum OMM-2000 device (Shimadzu, Tokyo, Japan). Two subjects play the game, and the cerebral blood flow of only one subject is measured, since the capacity of the equipment is limited.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: When the subject does decision-making for a matter of chance during the game, the right side of frontal part (Fp2) proves more activity than that of left side (Fp1), and proves that the activity of both parts of visual field (O1, O2) communicates each other. The present study with use of OT is highly useful for observing brain activity during play of shogi game.

Brain localization of memory chunks in chessplayers.

Int J Neurosci. 2007 Dec;117(12):1641-59.
Campitelli G, Gobet F, Head K, Buckley M, Parker A.
Brunel University, Uxbridge, United Kingdom.

Chess experts store domain-specific representations in their long-term memory; due to the activation of such representations, they perform with high accuracy in tasks that require the maintenance of previously seen information. Chunk-based theories of expertise (chunking theory: Chase & Simon, 1973; template theory: Gobet & Simon, 1996) state that expertise is acquired mainly by the acquisition and storage in long-term memory of familiar chunks that allow quick recognition. This study tested some predictions of these theories by using fMRI while chessplayers performed a recognition memory task. These theories predict that chessplayers access long-term memory chunks of domain-specific information, which are presumably stored in the temporal lobes. It was also predicted that the recognition memory tasks would activate working memory areas in the frontal and parietal lobes. These predictions were supported by the data.

Left lateralization in autobiographical memory: an fMRI study using the expert archival paradigm.

Int J Neurosci. 2008 Feb;118(2):191-209.
Campitelli G, Parker A, Head K, Gobet F.
Centre for Cognition and Neuroimaging, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, United Kingdom.

In brain-imaging and behavioral research, studies of autobiographical memory have higher ecological validity than controlled laboratory memory studies. However, they also have less controllability over the variables investigated. This article presents a novel technique – the expert archival paradigm – that increases controllability while maintaining ecological validity. Stimuli were created from games played by two international-level chess masters. The two players were asked to perform a memory task with stimuli generated from their own games and stimuli generated from other players’ games while they were scanned using fMRI. The study found a left lateralized pattern of brain activity that was very similar in both masters. The brain areas activated were the left temporo-parietal junction and left frontal areas. The expert archival paradigm has the advantage of not requiring an interview to assess the participants’ autobiographical memories, and affords the possibility of measuring their accuracy of remembering as well as their brain activity related to remote and recent memories. It can also be used in any field of expertise, including arts, sciences, and sports, in which archival data are available.

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