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The Neural Organization of Perception in Chess Experts

A man is playing chess with a glass of wine and is having a video call with one of his friends. iStock-1217191717

Neuroscience Letters

Daniel C. Krawczyk, Amy L. Boggan, M. Michelle McClelland and James Bartlett

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Overview

The human visual system responds to expertise, and findings from studies exploring the neural basis of expertise have suggested that regions of the brain that process faces also process other objects of expertise, including chess boards by chess players. In this study, Dr. Krawczyk and researchers explored whether chess and face processing overlap in brain activity when measured with fMRI. To test their hypothesis, researchers utilized twelve healthy males; half were chess experts while the other half were novices. Researchers found that both novices and experts exhibited face-selective areas, but these regions did not show selectivity to chess configurations relative to other stimuli. Expert chess players did demonstrate greater activation in areas of the brain associated with expertise, but these areas are separate from the face-selective region. Overall, results suggested that expert visual processing may be similar at the level of recognition, but do not necessarily demonstrate the same neural regions.
(A) Examples of each category shown in the experimental task. Conditions included blocks of chess, random chess, faces, outdoor scenes, and objects. (B) Regions of significant difference within the experts over the novices on the chess > random chess contrast. (C) Regions significantly greater for novices over experts on the chess minus random chess contrast.

(A) Examples of each category shown in the experimental task. Conditions included blocks of chess, random chess, faces, outdoor scenes, and objects. (B) Regions of significant difference within the experts over the novices on the chess > random chess contrast. (C) Regions significantly greater for novices over experts on the chess minus random chess contrast.

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AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT
Daniel Krawczyk in a black blazer with green and blue lights, vertical. Deputy Director, Debbie and Jim Francis Chair in Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Daniel Krawczyk, PhD

Deputy Director of Research Professor at UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences