Masters of chess 'use memory'

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The Independent Online

Grandmasters play chess using a part of the brain that lesser mortals would not use, drawing on a memory bank of moves instead of just analysing unusual new moves as the game proceeds, a study has found.

Ognjen Amidzic and colleagues at the University of Konstanz, in Germany, analysed electrical activity in the brains of 10 keen chess players and 10 grandmasters playing against a computer.

The study, published in Nature, showed that less skilled chess players had a lot of activity in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, the part involved in forming long-term memory. Grandmasters' brains, however, were busy in the frontal and parietal cortices, the regions involved in retrieving chunks of information held in long-term memory.

If the theory is correct it means the skill of a chess player depends largely on the fitness of their long-term memory.