This month’s Scientific American has a fantastic article on the psychology of expert skills which they’ve made freely available online.
It discusses how research into the cognitive processes and neuropsychology of chess masters is informing wider questions of how experts differ from novices and what mental skills underlie the mastering of a subject.
…much of the chess master’s advantage over the novice derives from the first few seconds of thought. This rapid, knowledge-guided perception, sometimes called apperception, can be seen in experts in other fields as well. Just as a master can recall all the moves in a game he has played, so can an accomplished musician often reconstruct the score to a sonata heard just once. And just as the chess master often finds the best move in a flash, an expert physician can sometimes make an accurate diagnosis within moments of laying eyes on a patient.
But how do the experts in these various subjects acquire their extraordinary skills? How much can be credited to innate talent and how much to intensive training? Psychologists have sought answers in studies of chess masters. The collected results of a century of such research have led to new theories explaining how the mind organizes and retrieves information.
Link to SciAm article ‘The Expert Mind’.