Mental Activity/ Discussion

Sub-page of MentalActivity

The statement "Chess is primarily a left brain game. Go actively stimulates both the right and left sides of the brain." in FunGoFacts#9 triggered the following discussion:

ilan: This might be fun but it is definitely not fact. Even though if the above assertion is completely false, it might be fun to compare the proportion of successful left handed players in Go as compared to chess.

    • Ilan, you might want to have a look at P. Shotwell's [ext] essay covering the role of brain hemispheres in Go vs. Chess. rubilia
    • That paper is about at the same level as the one aiming to show that go skill is related to speaking a tonal language. Just because someone writes something down or makes a study doesn't necessarily mean it's worthwhile, except for what I write, of course. ilan
      • Do you go to a doctor when feeling sick, sometimes? He might rely on this level of certainty... ;-) rubilia
    • Functional MRI scans have been done to verify the stated fact. You can read the abstract of a study on this exact subject at Milt's [ext] Comparison Between Chess And Go.
    • ilan: MRI scans cannot be used as psychometric data because there is no objective way to measure differences between different MRI pictures. In effect, one is "eyeballing" the differences, which may serve as anectodal evidence, but not as scientific evidence. Around 1987 I confronted popular science writer Richard Restak on this exact point at a lecture he was giving in Palo Alto bookstore Printers Inc. He had used MRI pictures in his book The Brain (also a series on PBS) in order to argue that some drugs had a damaging effect on the brain. After some glib asides and an attempt to poll the audience ("how many people think drugs are good for the brain") he almost inaudibly admitted that I was correct and quickly moved on.
    • Ahem - fMRI is a very common technique in psychometric studies of many kinds and is clearly accepted by many experts. See for example this paper, published in the last week: [ext], which also gives some idea as to how quantitative measurements can be made with this technique. Also your implication that handedness changes hemispheric language processing location is wrong in about 90% of cases. Although the size and "dominance" of one hemisphere relative to the other does indeed change this only changes the localization of linguistic areas for a minority of left-handers.
      • Nathaniel?: I have to say, 99% of all claims about left brain/right brain stuff are just total bunk, and fMRI studies are notoriously hard for non-experts (and even experts) to interpret, so I expected to not be quite convinced by that article... but... I wonder if Milt even read the papers? There are actually two papers written and published together there, one on Go and one on Chess -- see Cognitive Brain Research 16(1), 2003 (if you do try to find it, note that the citation Milt gives has the wrong volume and year). The chess article includes a discussion comparing the two studies, and says things like: "The Go study...found activations in similar areas as those identified for chess and the same lack of frontal activations. Indeed, the main difference between the two studies was activation observed in area 44 for some of the Go subjects. This activation in an area normally associated with speech production might occur because Go players maybe more familiar with the names of strategic positions than chess players." i.e., the only difference they found between Go and Chess suggests that Go players might talk/subvocalize/think of words more while playing. Interesting, but not really relevant. Furthermore: "Another important result is the lack of significant hemispheric lateralization in the [Chess] study....Similar lack of hemispheric lateralization was also found in the Go study." i.e., the studies found that both games used both hemispheres equally; there was never any evidence for lateralization here in the first place! (Weirdly, they say the opposite in their abstract; you have to actually read the details to find out that this is wrong. This does not make me trust the rest of their science much...) For those with ScienceDirect access: [ext] chess article, [ext] go article.

Mental Activity/ Discussion last edited by Phelan on January 26, 2009 - 10:07
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