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Advances in Cognitive and Neurosciences: Impact on Educational Chess Stephen A. Lipschultz, MD Second Koltanowski International Conference On Chess and.

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Presentation on theme: "Advances in Cognitive and Neurosciences: Impact on Educational Chess Stephen A. Lipschultz, MD Second Koltanowski International Conference On Chess and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Advances in Cognitive and Neurosciences: Impact on Educational Chess Stephen A. Lipschultz, MD Second Koltanowski International Conference On Chess and Education Dallas, Texas November 18-19, 2011

2 Goals Review recent research in neurophysiology and cognitive psychology Review recent research in neurophysiology and cognitive psychology Examine how new perspectives are impacting educational practice Examine how new perspectives are impacting educational practice Discuss the impact of these findings on the role of chess in education Discuss the impact of these findings on the role of chess in education Chess in Education vs. Educational Chess? Chess in Education vs. Educational Chess?

3 Educational Benefits Claimed for Chess Improved Reading Skills Improved Reading Skills Improved Math Skills Improved Math Skills Improved Memory Improved Memory Improved Critical Thinking Skills Improved Critical Thinking Skills Increased Attention Span Increased Attention Span Increased Concentration Increased Concentration Improved Behavior Improved Behavior Improved Self-esteem Improved Self-esteem Improved Attitudes Improved Attitudes

4 Distribution of Cognitive Functions in Human Brain Hackman & Farah 2008

5 Executive Functions A set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behaviors. A set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behaviors. Executive functions are necessary for goal-directed behavior. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behavior as needed, and to plan future behavior when faced with novel tasks and situations. Executive functions are necessary for goal-directed behavior. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behavior as needed, and to plan future behavior when faced with novel tasks and situations. Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. The ability to form concepts and think abstractly are often considered components of executive function. Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. The ability to form concepts and think abstractly are often considered components of executive function.

6 Types of Executive Functions Core EFs include: Cognitive Flexibility Inhibition (self-control, self-regulation) Working Memory More complex EFs include: Problem solving ReasoningPlanning Diamond and Lee, 2011

7 Importance of Executive Functions EFs are more important for school readiness than is IQ EFs are more important for school readiness than is IQ EFs continue to predict math and reading competence throughout all school years EFs continue to predict math and reading competence throughout all school years EFs remain critical for success throughout life, predicting outcomes in career, marriage, mental and physical health. EFs remain critical for success throughout life, predicting outcomes in career, marriage, mental and physical health.

8 Study of 1037 children in Dunedin, NZ born in one city in a single year and followed for 32 years Study of 1037 children in Dunedin, NZ born in one city in a single year and followed for 32 years Evaluated multiple measures of self-control at ages 3,5,7,9,11 Evaluated multiple measures of self-control at ages 3,5,7,9,11 96% retention at age 32 years 96% retention at age 32 years A Gradient of Childhood Self Control Predicts Health, Wealth and Public Safety Moffit et al, 2011

9 Evaluated at age 32 for: Adult health outcomes (substance dependence, inflammation and metabolic abnormalities; Wealth outcomes (low income, single-parent child rearing, credit problems, poor savings habits); Criminal records A Gradient of Childhood Self Control Predicts Health, Wealth and Public Safety - 2

10 A Gradient of Childhood Self Control Predicts Health, Wealth and Public Safety - 3 A = Physical Health indices B = Wealth indices

11 A Gradient of Childhood Self Control Predicts Health, Wealth and Public Safety - 4 C = Single Parent Child Rearing D = Criminal Record

12 What is Self-Control? Self-control is an umbrella construct that bridges concepts and measurements from different disciplines, including impulsivity, conscientiousness, self-regulation, delay of gratification, inattention- hyperactivity, executive function, willpower Self-control is an umbrella construct that bridges concepts and measurements from different disciplines, including impulsivity, conscientiousness, self-regulation, delay of gratification, inattention- hyperactivity, executive function, willpower Neuroscientists study self-control as an executive function subserved by the brains frontal cortex Neuroscientists study self-control as an executive function subserved by the brains frontal cortex Found to be under both genetic and environmental influences Found to be under both genetic and environmental influences

13 Optimally Targeting Educational Resources U.S. schools serve multiple and diverse populations U.S. schools serve multiple and diverse populations Extreme ethnic, genetic, social and individual variations Extreme ethnic, genetic, social and individual variations Differing skills and needs in children Differing skills and needs in children Educational tools – including chess – MUST be targeted to specific audiences Educational tools – including chess – MUST be targeted to specific audiences

14 Cognitive Issues in Low-SES Children Compared with middle class children: Compared with middle class children: Deficient factual knowledge Deficient factual knowledge Different cognitive development! Different cognitive development! Similar visual and spatial cognitive abilities Similar visual and spatial cognitive abilities Decreased prefrontal cognitive abilities Decreased prefrontal cognitive abilities Decreased ability to learn Decreased ability to learn Primarily affects executive functions Primarily affects executive functions Impact on reading, math and higher order thinking skills Impact on reading, math and higher order thinking skills Possibly related to: Genetics, Parenting, Stress, Nutrition, etc. Possibly related to: Genetics, Parenting, Stress, Nutrition, etc.

15 Sociologic Perspectives on Poverty Marx 1867: Economic factors create and maintain social stratification Marx 1867: Economic factors create and maintain social stratification Weber 1923: Functionalist accounts highlight ways in which society as a whole is served by enduring presence of a lower class Weber 1923: Functionalist accounts highlight ways in which society as a whole is served by enduring presence of a lower class Lewis 1965: Culture of Poverty emphasizes causes within individuals and their subculture rather than external forces Lewis 1965: Culture of Poverty emphasizes causes within individuals and their subculture rather than external forces

16 Neuroscientific insights into effects of poverty on cognition and brain development Animal studies show deprivation in young animals adversely affects learning skills Animal studies show deprivation in young animals adversely affects learning skills Low SES kids experience differs in many ways from middle class kids Low SES kids experience differs in many ways from middle class kids Gap in performance between low and middle SES kids on many tests of cognitive development Gap in performance between low and middle SES kids on many tests of cognitive development

17 Effects of Low SES on Cognitive Performance - Summary K First M.S. K First M.S. Left perisylvian/language+ + + Prefrontal/Executive+ Lateral prefrontal/Working memory + + Lateral prefrontal/Working memory + + Ant. Cingulate/Cognitive control + +/- Ant. Cingulate/Cognitive control + +/- Ventromedial/Reward processing - - Ventromedial/Reward processing - - Medial temporal/Memory- +* +* Parietal/Spatial cognition- +* +/-* Occipitotemporal/Visual acuity- - - Farah 2009 * Different testing methods employed to better parse out differences

18 Socioeconomic Disparities Affect Prefrontal Function in Children Kishiyama et al 20 Socioeconomic Disparities Affect Prefrontal Function in Children Kishiyama et al 2008 P1 & N1: Prefrontal-dependent, brain potentials generated in ventral and dorsal extrastriate pathways and modulated by degree of voluntary attention. N2 component reflects the automatic response to a novelty stimulus & is dependent on a distributed neural processing network, with the PFC serving as a critical component of this system.

19 Hackman & Farah 2008

20 Standard MRI

21 Functional MRI (fMRI) Colored regions indicate areas of active oxygen uptake

22 Sociologic Perspectives on Poverty Marx 1867: Economic factors create and maintain social stratification Marx 1867: Economic factors create and maintain social stratification Weber 1923: Functionalist accounts highlight ways in which society as a whole is served by enduring presence of a lower class Weber 1923: Functionalist accounts highlight ways in which society as a whole is served by enduring presence of a lower class Lewis 1965: Culture of Poverty emphasizes causes within individuals and their subculture rather than external forces Lewis 1965: Culture of Poverty emphasizes causes within individuals and their subculture rather than external forces Neuroscientific 2008: Poverty directly affects brain development, in a potentially reversible fashion Neuroscientific 2008: Poverty directly affects brain development, in a potentially reversible fashion

23 Interventions that might aid Executive Function development in children Six approaches have some scientific support: Computerized Training Hybrid computer & non-computer games Aerobic Exercise and Sports Martial Arts and Mindfulness Practices Classroom Curricula Add-ons to Classroom Curricula Diamond and Lee, 2011

24 Computerized Training CogMed © is most studied (uses computer games that progressively increase working memory demands) Kids improve on games they practice; skills transfer to other working memory tasks; task difficulty must increase for skills to develop Benefits do not transfer to unpracticed EF skills, and benefits accrue only in narrow range of skills (ie non-verbal working memory did not transfer to verbal working memory skills Benefits persisted 6 months later in some studies; math skills did not improve initially but did in 6 months

25 Aerobic Exercise and Sport Aerobic exercise robustly improves PFC function and EFs (3 studies of sustained exercise in children) 1. Running (with exercise becoming more difficult over time) improved cognitive flexibility and creativity in 8-12 year olds 2. Overweight, sedentary 7-11 year olds assigned to no treatment, 20 or 40 min/d of group aerobic games (emphasis on enjoyment, not competition). Only high-dose group improved on some EFs year olds randomly assigned to 2 hours/d of fitness training for school year (aerobic 70 min, then motor skill development) showed more improvement in working memory than no treatment controls, but no overall difference between groups

26 Martial Arts and Mindfulness Practice Traditional martial arts emphasize self-control, discipline (inhibitory control) and character development High SES 5-11 year olds randomly assigned to Tae- Kwon-Do training showed significantly better EF gains than traditional PE on all dimensions of EFs studied. (Grade 4-5 improved more than K-1, boys more than girls) Training sessions all began with three questions emphasizing self-monitoring and planning. (Where am I? What am I doing? What should I be doing?)

27 Martial Arts - 2 Adolescent juvenile delinquents assigned either to traditional Tae-Kwon-Do (emphasizing qualities such as respect, humility, perseverance and honor plus physical training) vs. modern martial arts (as a competitive sport) Traditional group: less aggression and anxiety and improved social ability and self-esteem Modern martial arts: more juvenile delinquency and aggressiveness, decreased social ability and self- esteem Trulson 1986

28 Classroom Curricula Tools of the Mind (preschool & K) Social pretend play for early development of EFs. Children must inhibit acting out of character, remember their own and others roles, and flexibly adjust as others improvise 5 year olds did better on all EFs studied than a group receiving specific EF computerized training Diamond et al 2007

29 Add-ons to Classroom Curricula PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) trains teachers to build childrens competencies in self control, managing feelings and interpersonal problem solving. After one year of PATHS, 7-9 year olds showed better inhibitory control and cognitive flexibility; kids who improved showed fewer behavior problems one year later CRSP (Chicago School Readiness Project) provided Head Start teachers with extensive behavior management training, emphasizing verbally-skilled strategies for emotion regulation EFs (attention, inhibition and impulsivity) of 4 year olds improved more than controls, as did vocabulary, letter-naming and math. EFs in spring of pre-school predicted achievement 3 years later in math and reading

30 What about Chess? There are interventions that can improve EFs in kids There are interventions that can improve EFs in kids There is no prospective data about the impact of chess on EFs There is no prospective data about the impact of chess on EFs There is some data on the cognitive abilities of chess players There is some data on the cognitive abilities of chess players Merely observations on cognitive skills of chess players of different ages and levels players of different ages and levels

31 Chess and Cognition: Children Strong child players perform better than non- players on some psychometric tests; Strong child players perform better than non- players on some psychometric tests; Stronger child players perform better than weaker players on some tests; Stronger child players perform better than weaker players on some tests; Some psychometric tests (spatial aptitude, numeric ability) may prospectively predict chess skill Some psychometric tests (spatial aptitude, numeric ability) may prospectively predict chess skill

32 Chess and Cognition: Adults Skilled adult players showed no correlation of chess skills with visual memory skills Skilled adult players showed no correlation of chess skills with visual memory skills

33 Despite their amazing chess prowess, Grandmasters… Are no smarter than other people Are no smarter than other people Have average cognitive skills Have average cognitive skills Have normal memory for matters outside of chess Have normal memory for matters outside of chess

34 Grandmasters… Do not look more moves ahead, and do not consider more moves. Instead, they see the best moves faster. Do not look more moves ahead, and do not consider more moves. Instead, they see the best moves faster. Studying their eye movements reveals that they look at the edges of squares and absorb information from multiple squares at once, their eyes dart across greater distances, and linger less time on each spot than weaker players. Studying their eye movements reveals that they look at the edges of squares and absorb information from multiple squares at once, their eyes dart across greater distances, and linger less time on each spot than weaker players. Major difference: Ability to memorize entire board positions after just a brief glance. This ability is one of the best correlates of chess skill Major difference: Ability to memorize entire board positions after just a brief glance. This ability is one of the best correlates of chess skill Not through visual memory, but via specific chess-related skill

35 Grandmasters achieve expertise by… Immense amount of practice that allows them to store a recognition-action repertoire of ,000 features of chess positions and responses Immense amount of practice that allows them to store a recognition-action repertoire of ,000 features of chess positions and responses Memory-chunking that enables advanced pattern recognition skills Memory-chunking that enables advanced pattern recognition skills

36 Expertise: This is similar to the process of developing expertise in any other area This is similar to the process of developing expertise in any other area It takes vast amounts of practice and dedication to become an expert It takes vast amounts of practice and dedication to become an expert

37 Basic Principle of Cognitive Psychology Expertise in one area does NOT often generalize to skills in other areas! Expertise in one area does NOT often generalize to skills in other areas! Expert-level knowledge and skills are domain-specific Expert-level knowledge and skills are domain-specific Training time dedicated to one area often is at the expense of others Training time dedicated to one area often is at the expense of others

38 Transfer of Skills? Diminishing return at higher chess levels Diminishing return at higher chess levels How much chess optimizes thinking skills? How much chess optimizes thinking skills? How much expertise must be learned? How much expertise must be learned?

39 Cognitively speaking… Early chess players use one part of the brain (medial temporal lobes) to encode new information Early chess players use one part of the brain (medial temporal lobes) to encode new information Advanced players use frontal and parietal lobes, suggesting that they are recalling well-organized information from memory Advanced players use frontal and parietal lobes, suggesting that they are recalling well-organized information from memory

40 Chess and Brain Regions - 1 Early Players: Occipital Lobe: Occipital Lobe: Visual processes Visual processes Parietal Lobe: Parietal Lobe: Attentional control Spatial orientation Attentional control Spatial orientation Expert Players: Frontal lobe Frontal lobe Higher order reasoning Higher order reasoning Utilization of expert Utilization of expert memory chunks from memory chunks from well-organized chess well-organized chess memory stores memory stores Amateur Players: Temporal lobe & Hippocampus Temporal lobe & Hippocampus Encoding & analysis of chessboard information Encoding & analysis of chessboard information

41 Chess and Brain Regions - 2 Prefrontal executive function: Compensatory development through chess?? Visual & Spatial cognition: Equal cognitive ability to learn and enjoy

42 Lessons from Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience… By understanding the actual brain processes involved in learning, we can better define: What we teach What we teach Why we teach it Why we teach it Who we teach it to Who we teach it to How we teach it How we teach it

43 Lessons Learned from Successful Cognitive Training Programs Those with initially poorest EFs gain the most; Those with initially poorest EFs gain the most; The largest differences between those in programs that improve EFs vs. controls are consistently found on the most demanding EF measures. Everyone does fine when EF demands are low. Group differences are clearest when significant EF control is needed. The largest differences between those in programs that improve EFs vs. controls are consistently found on the most demanding EF measures. Everyone does fine when EF demands are low. Group differences are clearest when significant EF control is needed. EFs must be continually challenged to see improvements. Groups assigned to the same program, but without difficulty increasing, do not show EF gains. EFs must be continually challenged to see improvements. Groups assigned to the same program, but without difficulty increasing, do not show EF gains.

44 Lessons Learned from Successful Cognitive Training Programs - 2 Some techniques (computer training, martial arts) may benefit children 8-12 more than those 4-5. Some techniques (computer training, martial arts) may benefit children 8-12 more than those 4-5. Computer training has been shown to improve working memory and reasoning, but its unclear whether it can improve inhibitory control. Computer training has been shown to improve working memory and reasoning, but its unclear whether it can improve inhibitory control.

45 Lessons Learned from Successful Cognitive Training Programs - 3 EF training appears to transfer between different skills, but the transfer is very narrow. Working memory training improves working memory, but not inhibition or speed; If training was only with visuospatial items there is little transfer to verbal skills. EF training appears to transfer between different skills, but the transfer is very narrow. Working memory training improves working memory, but not inhibition or speed; If training was only with visuospatial items there is little transfer to verbal skills. EF gains from martial arts or school curricula may be greater because programs address EFs more globally, not because transfer is inherently better. EF gains from martial arts or school curricula may be greater because programs address EFs more globally, not because transfer is inherently better.

46 Lessons Learned from Successful Cognitive Training Programs - 4 Many different activities can improve EFs. Many different activities can improve EFs. A key element is childs willingness to devote time to the activity. A key element is childs willingness to devote time to the activity. Curricula need to address EFs throughout the day, not only in a module. Repeated practice produces the benefits. Curricula need to address EFs throughout the day, not only in a module. Repeated practice produces the benefits.

47 Lessons Learned from Successful Cognitive Training Programs -5 Stress, loneliness and not being physically fit impair prefrontal cortex function and EFs. Stress, loneliness and not being physically fit impair prefrontal cortex function and EFs.

48 Best Approaches to Improving EFs and School Outcomes will Probably Be Those That… Engage students passionate interests, bringing them joy and pride Engage students passionate interests, bringing them joy and pride Address stresses in students lives, strengthen ability to form calmer, healthier responses Address stresses in students lives, strengthen ability to form calmer, healthier responses Involve vigorous exercise Involve vigorous exercise Allow a sense of belonging and social acceptance Allow a sense of belonging and social acceptance Offer opportunities to repeatedly practice at progressively more demanding levels Offer opportunities to repeatedly practice at progressively more demanding levels

49 Implementing Educational Chess as a tool to teach EF skills Many current chess programs probably fall far short Many current chess programs probably fall far short Its about the process, not the (chess) outcome Systematic learning of early and intermediate skills Verifiable skill development Ample practice time Its about the process, not the (chess) outcome Systematic learning of early and intermediate skills Verifiable skill development Ample practice time Educational Content Design and Implementation Link chess to other subjects, concepts Peer-to-peer mentoring Accessible learning materials that develop EF skills Educational Content Design and Implementation Link chess to other subjects, concepts Peer-to-peer mentoring Accessible learning materials that develop EF skills Tournaments – both good and bad aspects Is there a less stressful, more inclusive model that uses competition appropriately to help develop skills? Tournaments – both good and bad aspects Is there a less stressful, more inclusive model that uses competition appropriately to help develop skills?

50 References Socioeconomic disparities affect prefrontal function in children. Kishayama, Mark, Boyce, W. Thomas et al, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 21:6, pp , Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4-12 years old. Diamond, Adele, Lee, Kathleen, Science 2011 August 19; 333(6045): A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth and public safety. Moffit, Terry et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2011 February 15: 108(7); Feb 15, Mind, Brain and Education in Socioeconomic context Farah, Martha J. in The Developmental Relations Between Mind, Brain and Education, M. Ferrari and L. Vuletic (Eds), 2009 Dordrecht: Springer Science + Business Socioeconomic status and the developing brain Hackman, Daniel A. and Farah, Martha J. Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol 13 No.2 pp , Childhood poverty: Specific associations with neurocognitive development Farah, Martha J, Shera, David M. et al. Brain Research 1110 (2006) , Trulson, ME, Hum. Relat. 1986; 39:1131

51 Advances in Cognitive and Neurosciences: Impact on Educational Chess Stephen A. Lipschultz, MD Second Koltanowski International Conference On Chess and Education Dallas, Texas November 18-19, 2011


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