The Neural Basis of Intuitive Best Next-Move Generation in Board Game Experts

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Science  21 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6015, pp. 341-346
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194732

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The superior capability of cognitive experts largely depends on quick automatic processes. To reveal their neural bases, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study brain activity of professional and amateur players in a board game named shogi. We found two activations specific to professionals: one in the precuneus of the parietal lobe during perception of board patterns, and the other in the caudate nucleus of the basal ganglia during quick generation of the best next move. Activities at these two sites covaried in relevant tasks. These results suggest that the precuneus-caudate circuit implements the automatic, yet complicated, processes of board-pattern perception and next-move generation in board game experts.

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