Memory & Cognition

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 83–93 | Cite as

Working memory in chess

  • T. W. Robbins
  • E. J. Anderson
  • D. R. Barker
  • A. C. Bradley
  • C. Fearnyhough
  • R. Henson
  • S. R. Hudson
  • A. D. Baddeley
Article

Abstract

Three experiments investigated the role of working memory in various aspects of thinking in chess. Experiment 1 examined the immediate memory for briefly presented chess positions from master games in players from a wide range of abilities, following the imposition of various secondary tasks designed to block separate components of working memory. Suppression of the articulatory loop (by preventing subvocal rehearsal) had no effect on measures of recall, whereas blocking the visuospatial sketchpad (by manipulation of a keypad) and blocking the central executive (by random letter generation) had equivalent disruptive effects, in comparison with a control condition. Experiment 2 investigated the effects of similar secondary tasks on the solution (i.e., move selection) of tactical chess positions, and a similar pattern was found, except that blocking the central executive was much more disruptive than in Experiment 1. Experiment 3 compared performance on two types of primary task, one concerned with solving chess positions as in Experiment 2, and the other a sentence-rearrangement task. The secondary tasks in each case were both designed to block the central executive, but one was verbal (vocal generation of random numbers), while the other was spatial in nature (random generation of keypresses). Performance of the spatial secondary task was affected to a greater extent by the chess primary task than by the verbal primary task, whereas there were no differential effects on these secondary tasks by the verbal primary task. In none of the three experiments were there any differential effects between weak and strong players. These results are interpreted in the context of the workingmemory model and previous theories of the nature of cognition in chess.

References

  1. Baddeley, A. D. (1966). The capacity for generating information by randomization.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,18, 119–129.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Baddeley, A. D. (1986).Working memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Baddeley, A. D., Grant, S., Wight, E., &Thomson, N. (1975). Imagery and visual working memory. In P. M. A. Rabbitt & S. Dornic (Eds.),Attention and performance V (pp. 205–217). London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baddeley, A. D., &Hitch, G. J. (1974). Working memory. In G. H. Bower (Ed.),The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 8, pp. 47–90). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Baddeley, A. D., Lewis, V. J., Eldridge, M., &Thomson, N. (1984). Attention and retrieval from long-term memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,113, 211–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baddeley, A. D., Lewis V. J., &Vallar, G. (1984). Exploring the articulatory loop.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,36, 233–252.Google Scholar
  7. Brooks, L. (1968). Spatial and verbal components in the act of recall.Canadian Journal of Psychology,22, 349–368.Google Scholar
  8. Burton, J. B., Gillespie, G. M., Robbins, T. W., & Baddeley, A. D. (1990).Executive processes and visuospatial imagery in chess. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  9. Charness, N. (1976). Memory for chess positions: Resistance to interference.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory,2, 641–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chase, W. G., &Erikson, K. A. (1982). Skill and working memory. In G. H. Bower (Ed.),The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 16, pp. 1–58). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  11. Chase, W. G., &Simon, H. A. (1973a). The mind’s eye in chess. In W. G. Chase (Ed.),Visual information processing (pp. 215–281). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chase, W. G., &Simon, H. A. (1973b). Perception in chess.Cognitive Psychology,4, 55–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen, J. (1969).Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. de Groot, A. D. (1965).Thought and choice in chess. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  15. Euwe, M., &Kramer, H. (1965).The middle game in chess (Vol. 2). London: Bell.Google Scholar
  16. Farmer, E. W., Berman, J. V. F., &Fletcher, Y. L. (1986). Evidence for a visuo-spatial scratch-pad in working memory.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,38A, 675–688.Google Scholar
  17. Frey, P. W., &Adesman, P. (1976). Recall memory for visually presented chess positions.Memory & Cognition,4, 541–547.Google Scholar
  18. Gilhooly, K. J., Logie, R. H., Wetherick, N. E., &Winn, V. (1993). Working memory and strategies in syllogistic-reasoning tasks.Memory & Cognition,21, 115–124.Google Scholar
  19. Goldin, S. (1978). Memory effects for the ordinary: Typicality effects in chess memory.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory,4, 605–611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Holding, D. H. (1985).The psychology of chess skill. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  21. Holding, D. H. (1989a). Adversary problem solving by humans. In K. J. Gilhooly (Ed.),Human and machine problem solving (pp. 83–122). New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  22. Holding, D. H. (1989b). Counting backward during chess move choice.Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society,27, 421–424.Google Scholar
  23. Livshitz, A. (1988).Test your chess IQ (Book 1). Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  24. Logie, R. H. (1986). Visuospatial processing in working memory.Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,38A, 229–247.Google Scholar
  25. Logie, R. H., Baddeley, A. D., Mane, A., Sheptak, R., &Donchin, E. (1988). Working memory in the acquisition of complex skills. In A. M. Colley & J. R. Beech (Eds.),Cognition and action in skilled behaviour (pp. 361–377). Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Milojkovic, I. D. (1982). Chess imagery in novice and master.Journal of Mental Imagery,6, 125–144.Google Scholar
  27. Pfau, H. D., &Murphy, M. D. (1988). Role of verbal knowledge in chess.American Journal of Psychology,101, 73–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Saariluoma, P. (1989). Chess players’ recall of auditorily presented chess positions.European Journal of Cognitive Psychology,1, 309–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Saariluoma, P. (1992). Visuospatial and articulatory interference in chess players’ information intake.Applied Cognitive Psychology,4, 309–320.Google Scholar
  30. Shannon, C. E., &Weaver, W. (1949).The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  31. Siegel, S. (1956).Non-parametric statistics. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. W. Robbins
    • 1
  • E. J. Anderson
    • 1
  • D. R. Barker
    • 1
  • A. C. Bradley
    • 1
  • C. Fearnyhough
    • 1
  • R. Henson
    • 1
  • S. R. Hudson
    • 1
  • A. D. Baddeley
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeU.K.
  2. 2.M.R.C. Applied Psychology UnitCambridgeEngland

Personalised recommendations