Recall among chess masters depends on templates

Relevant cites in my acad.bib : @gobet1996a, @frey1976recall.

Had a discussion about the studies Andersson loves to cite on chess masters who could play dozens of simultaneous boards, but seem to have no special short-term memory.

The seminal set of studies was done by Frey and Adesman, published in 1976. Shows that advanced players can remember pieces on a board only if those pieces could have gotten there in the course of a regular chess game, i.e. there are meaningful patterns between the pieces. When they are shown pieces randomly arranged, their memory is no better than the novice's.

Another set of later studies (and there are tons of other citations to explore) by Gobet and Simon in 1996 confirmed the initial findings, and further found that even “chunking” as an explanation is inadequate to explain the mechanism by which the chess masters could remember so many pieces. They suggest instead templates, which I do not fully understand but seem to be what they sound like, larger frameworks that tell the story of how the current state came to be.

Neil Mehta suggested a wonderful exercise of going through the history of antibiotics and their development (what problems did each successive generation of drugs solve?) as a way to build a framework for antibiotics in general. This would help the student deliberately build the framework that the experienced attending developed piece by piece over time, and the idea could be extended to one of my favorite subjects of teacher empathy for student learning: the student is trying to build a framework that is second nature for the attending (resident/fellow) from scratch, and it can be hard or impossible to remember how hard or impossible that task felt at the time. That is, the learner can be encouraged to build a framework in a specific way, and the teacher can be encouraged to think about all the steps that brought them to their current state of knowledge, and maybe even to “think out loud” when they perform reasoning (which can be hard because perhaps they are, appropriately, mostly functioning on unconscious reflex that was build over time).

Sun 17 Nov 2019 10:23:05 AM CST