Does learning a language use the same part of the brain as playing chess?

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Paul Anderson

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Paul Anderson  asked the Naked Scientists:

Hi Chris and Team,

I accidentally typed Christ, which shows how much I revere you!

I think it was Sir Walter Scott who said it was better to learn a foreign language than play chess.  My question is, Is the same part of the brain involved in the two activities?.

Surely chess is a sad waste of brains. - Sir Walter Scott

Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever, when they are only wasting their time. - George Bernard Shaw

I have played chess and also dabbled with a bit of Chinese chess, but I am inclined to think it is a waste of time when I could be learning more constructive things.

I am also a Sudoku addict, and when I arrive at work 1 or 2 hours early, I sit in the tea room, hoping there is a NZ Herald so I can catch up with the world news, but I find I cannot do that and listen to Naked Scientist podcasts at the same time, whereas I seem to be able to do Sodoku at the same time. I suppose because that is more visual and I am not trying to absorb the atrocities of the news.
I am rambling on a bit above, but the general idea is the use of the mind and different parts of it. I want to keep an active mind to avoid Alzheimer's.

Must rush off to work.

What do you think?


Offline Make it Lady

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When I went to Japan for a year as a year out and learnt a fair amount of Japanese, I returned home and found I could no longer differentiate equations. I had been really good at it before I went but on return to my studies, not only did I struggle with it but I didn't even know where to start. It felt like it had been over written with the Japanese I had learnt. It may have still been there but perhaps the pathways had been altered so that I couldn't reach it any more.
I've heard that maths and music use the same parts of the brain but language and strategy, I don't know. 
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day, set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life.