ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 1993-2003.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.01993

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Processing characteristics and mechanisms of perception and memory of mind sports experts in domain-specific tasks

ZHAO Bingjie, ZHANG Qihan, CHEN Yixin, ZHANG Peng, BAI Xuejun()   

  1. Key Research Base of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Ministry of Education, Academy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University; Faculty of Psychology, Tianjin Normal University; Center of Collaborative Innovation for Assessment and Promotion of Mental Health, Tianjin 300387, China
  • Received:2021-04-10 Online:2022-09-15 Published:2022-07-21
  • Contact: BAI Xuejun


Mind sports are competitive sports that aim at developing intelligence and involves multiple high-level cognitive processing. Deliberate practice enables the mind sports experts to exhibit steady expertise effects in domain-specific tasks. A review of previous research reveals that perception and memory are not only the basis of high-level cognitive functions, but also the central to the mind sports expert advantage. That is, the extraordinary performance of the mind sports experts is based on their perceptual and memory advantage. In this paper, we summarize the cognitive neural mechanisms through which expert perception and memory are influenced by the experience of mind sports from the perspective of cognitive neuropsychology to reveal the intrinsic processing patterns and neural mechanisms of the expertise effects in mind sports.

Long-term training contributed to a stable holistic perceptual advantage in mind sports experts, as reflected by the fact that experts made a greater proportion of fixations between the pieces and completed the perceptual task with fewer fixations. This performance is consistent with the holistic model of image perception, in which the experts automatically process information about the entire game or board with a larger perceptual span, quickly locate task-relevant target areas with prior knowledge, and process abstract pieces relations in parallel. The temporo-parietal junction and fusiform gyri are the neural bases of a holistic perceptual process.

Mind sports experts also have a stable memory advantage. Long-term training in mind sports allows experts to store not only a large amount of visual-spatial information in their long-term memory, but also more abstract and generalized knowledge. The Chunking and Template theory argues that experts rely primarily on concrete visuospatial information and therefore have an advantage when processing familiar stimuli. To explain experts' advantage in memorizing random chess stimuli, the SEEK theory suggests that experts have rich and flexible abstract knowledge and therefore have a memory advantage even when processing unfamiliar or stimuli that change presentation. The neural basis for the expert's advantage in accurate, rapid, and flexible memory is the synergistic activity of the medial temporal, frontotemporal, and frontoparietal regions.

The existence of stable superior performance of experts in mind sports on tasks within the domain suggests that deliberate practice can improve experts' specific skills, supporting the view that training can promote intelligence. The following shortcomings still exist: 1) most studies have mainly focused on the chess domain, and it is still unclear whether the differences in cognitive demands of different mind sports lead to differences in extrinsic behavior and intrinsic neural basis; 2) existing studies have mainly examined the neural mechanisms underlying mind sports experts' advantage effects through univariate analysis based on voxels. Multi-voxel pattern analysis and representational similarity analysis can be used to explore the intrinsic neural basis more profoundly; 3) The timing of stimulus presentation has not been standardized and the adequacy of timing may lead to a decrease in group differentiation and a mix of other cognitive components. Multimodal studies can be conducted with high temporal resolution EEG and eye-movement recording to explore the dynamic cognitive neural mechanisms in depth. 4) due to a lack of long-term longitudinal study on how novices would become mind sports experts through deliberate practice, it remains incomplete regarding the cognitive performance and the trajectory of neural mechanism changes of mind sports experts.

Future research can examine types of mind sports, innovative experimental paradigms, combined with measurement equipment and cognitive characteristics, to explore in depth and detail the neural mechanisms underlying the holistic perceptual advantage and memory advantage of mind sports experts, to provide a theoretical basis for artificial intelligence and skill training.

Key words: mind sports, holistic perceptual advantage, memory advantage, abstract information, brain plasticity

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