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Chess: Not All About Logic?

By: Jason Williams
Summary: Spatial processing may be the key to a good game. Chess is not necessarily a game reserved for people with IQ scores on par with Einstein. In fact, chess strategy may rely more heavily on spatial processing than on logic and computational skills.
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Chess is not necessarily a game reserved for people with IQ scores on par with Einstein. In fact, chess strategy may rely more heavily on spatial processing than on logic and computational skills. Researchers at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of novice players during a match and found a flurry of activity in the parietal and occipital lobes, areas not associated with general intelligence.

"It's not what we were expecting," says Sheng He, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology. The findings, published in Cognitive Brain Research, have implications beyond castling and checkmate. The activity observed in the parietal lobe suggests that this area may be capable of handling complex spatial functions, such as the interaction of memory and incoming spatial information.

"The parietal lobe may have more functions than we previously suspected," says He. And inactivity in another area--the left lateral frontal lobe--raises questions about the role of general intelligence in high-level cognition and problem solving.



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Publication: Psychology Today
Publication Date: Mar/Apr 2003
(Document ID: 2777)
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