June 2004
Volume 4, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2004
Are chess experts any different from face, bird, or Greeble experts?
Author Affiliations
  • Giulia Righi
    Brown University, Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Science, Providence, RI, USA
Journal of Vision August 2004, Vol.4, 504. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/4.8.504
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      Giulia Righi, Michael J. Tarr; Are chess experts any different from face, bird, or Greeble experts?. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):504. https://doi.org/10.1167/4.8.504.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Do chess experts recruit the same functional and neural mechanisms used by experts in other domains (e.g., faces, birds, or Greebles)? Chase and Simon (1973) demonstrated that master chess players (experts) were able to process and remember game configurations by dividing the board into meaningful “chunks” composed of a varying number of pieces. In contrast, chess novices did not perceive chess configurations in this manner, and, consequently, were much worse than masters at recalling particular boards. This difference only maintained for valid game configurations — novices and masters performed roughly equivalently when invalid boards were shown. We were interested in whether this expertise effect is based on the same holistic-configural processing observed for face and Greeble experts, and, if so, whether similar neural substrates are recruited. Because chess expertise has a significant cognitive component, it also provides a unique domain for investigating the interaction between perceptual and cognitive knowledge at the expert level. To prompt observers to process chessboards as if playing chess, we used a study task in which they judged whether white or black was winning for both valid and invalid game configurations. We then probed observers' memory for these boards using a recognition memory (old/new) test and found that chess expertise (as measured by years playing) correlated with the ability to correctly recognize valid boards. This paradigm was used in an fMRI study to identify the neural correlates of chess expertise (both in the visual system and elsewhere). Several indices were used to estimate an individual's level of expertise: years playing; recognition memory performance, and ELO rank. A Valid-Invalid board subtraction for both experts and novices reveals areas of selectivity that overlap with those recruited in expert object recognition, as well as visual areas uniquely recruited by chess experts. We also find non-visual areas that appear to be selectively activated for chess masters.

Righi, G., Tarr, M. J.(2004). Are chess experts any different from face, bird, or Greeble experts? [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 4( 8): 504, 504a, http://journalofvision.org/4/8/504/, doi:10.1167/4.8.504. [CrossRef]
 Funded by the Perceptual Expertise Network (#15573-S6), a collaborative award from James S. McDonnell Foundation, and NSF award #BCS-0094491.

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