A functional MRI study of high-level cognition. I. The game of chess

Michael Atherton, Jiancheng Zhuang, William M. Bart, Xiaoping Hu, Sheng He

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82 Scopus citations


Chess is a game that involves many aspects of high level cognition and requires sophisticated problem solving skills. However, there is little understanding of the neural basis of chess cognition. This study employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify cortical areas that are active during the analysis of chess positions compared with a spatial task with matched visual stimuli. Bilateral activation was revealed in the superior frontal lobes, the parietal lobes, and occipital lobes. Some small areas of activation were observed unilaterally in the left hemisphere. The left hemisphere showed more activation than the right. Results are discussed in relation to a similar brain imaging study on the game Go.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-31
Number of pages6
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by grant MH55346 to XH and a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship and a McKnight–Land grant professorship to SH.


  • Cognition
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neural processing


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