brain laterality in go


Research results

[ext] Research has shown that Go players use their right brain more than chess players.

axd: Although this page seems to focus on the right-side of the brain, before jumping to conclusions: the article also tells us that "this type of right hemisphere lateralization differs from the modest left hemisphere lateralization observed during chess playing". So maybe what is said is that go players use more their right brain than chess players their left brain.

This result is unsurprising, since it is relatively well-established that the left brain focuses more on the verbal and logical, the right brain more on patterns and images (in the case of the 95% of the population that is right-handed, that is).

It has also been reported that the right hemisphere is involved more in fuseki and whole-board thinking, the left with tactics and reading. Can anyone point to specific research on this topic, which apparently is in Japanese? The same, or related, research, indicates that people with left-brain disorders suffer in their reading ability but not fuseki.

General info on laterality

The right side of the brain controls the left hand, and vice versa--that is, the circuits "cross". People whose hemispheres have been disconnected, for example, when shown a picture of an object in their left visual field (right hemisphere) can then find the object under a blanket with their left hand, but not their right (nor can they name it, verbalization being a left-hemisphere function).

On another note, studies have shown that people find faces whose mouths turn up on the left side "happier" than exact mirror images. That is because the smiling left side inputs into the right hemisphere of the brain, which is the side that specializes in facial identification.

Implications for go

Lateral bias in positional judgment

A position which is stronger on the left and weaker on the right may be incorrectly judged to be more favorable than one which is stronger on the right and weaker on the left.

Countermeasure: if playing on-line, use your client's board rotation feature; if playing in person, get up and look at the board from a different angle.

Handedness effect

Moves played with the right hand may unconsciously be dominated by the left hemisphere's logical, rational, verbal aspects, and underemphasize the right hemisphere's full-board approach.

Countermeasure: play with your left hand. To strengthen the effect, hold a stone in your left hand while thinking. If playing on-line, operate the mouse with your left hand, and hold it with your left hand while thinking. My guess is that this could be good for one or two stones in extra strength.

Vincent: It's an interesting idea, on the other hand, there is the notion that you play more quickly when you hold a stone in your hand (or have your hand on the mouse). I always try to first decide where I want to play, then pick up the stone (or mouse) and play there.

brain laterality in go last edited by axd on August 4, 2007 - 00:00
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