Chess As A Whole Brain Activity

During one of trawls for information on chess and the brain I found this article on how chess helps to show how the brain works during complex tasks. It gives a fascinating insight into how various areas are needed to work together in performing complex tasks:

For chess players, color separation and spatial discrimination activate parts on both sides of the brain toward the back of the head known to be associated with visual processing. Rule retrieval activates two parts on the left side of the brain, a small structure deep within the brain associated with indexing memories and a structure in an area near the left ear associated with memory storage. Checkmate judgment activates areas on both sides near the front of the brain crucial for planning and in the back of the brain important for generating images.

There is also this study which shows how expert chess players engage different parts of the brain to the novice. It carries a noteworthy conclusion:

We showed that skilled recognition is not solely based on more efficient versions of the same cognitive processes necessary in non-skilled recognition. Instead, skilled recognition may involve qualitatively different cognitive processes which are accommodated in the human brain through engagement of additional homologous brain areas.

Taking this a step further is it not reasonable to hypothesize that chess practice will also help develop superior cooperation of different parts of the brain as it adapts to the need to perform the chess act?


Author: NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in St. Helens in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Nigel has written a number of chess books that are available at Amazon: