Sunday, June 11, 2006

An inquiring mind needs to know

Yesterday I drunk quite a few beers.
I stayed to long in the sun.
Hence I got fever of 38.4 C (101.1 F)
My head was filled with cotton balls.
I felt that I couldn't perform any intellectual task.

That was a good moment to test the statement that your IQ is not influenced by how miserable you feel. That is a typical counter intuitive scientific finding.
So I did another 100 exercises at CTS and indeed, my performance was not degraded.
Actually I scored an all time high of 1564!

When I have a good night sleep, I perform badly at CTS during the first few hours after awaking.
Today I tried to see why. That was very difficult, since I felt rather musty.
Pattern recognition worked at its usual lightning speed though. So another part of the process is slowed down.

Usually we divide the solution process in two parts, pattern recognition and calculation.

Pattern recognition.
The speed of pattern recognition isn't influenced by alcohol and fever, nor by sleep.

That leads to the conclusion that alcohol and fever don't have an influence on the speed of calculation either but a good night sleep slows the calculation down (I hope you can follow this).
That's hard to imagine.
Are there other factors at play which I don't know of?

Another conclusion is that the brainprocess that is usually slowed down by alcohol, is not involved in solving chess problems.

So the question rises: "Which brainprocess which is involved in the solution of chessproblems is unaffected by alcohol and fever, but slows down after much sleep?"


  1. Perhaps this is why there are so many GM alcoholics.

    Could it be a function of a reduced ability to think that you did better? You have a lot of implicit knowledge of tactical patterns, so perhaps when you don't try to consciously think through each problem, and just go on intuition, you do better.(Experts in tennis, for instance, do better when they don't think about how to hold the racquet.)

  2. The sleeper I am, the dumber I am. You have a link to an article stating IQ isn't affected by miserable conditions?

  3. Blue Devil,

    How alcohol improves your brain is allready explained in an
    Old post of mine

  4. Smug, sorry, I haven't a link. It was on Discovery channel a few years ago.
    It is very counter-intuitive indeed.

    With sleep it seems to work somewhat different. I perform better by far in the evening than in the early morning. Especially the speed is very different.

  5. I think what this proves is hypothesis that people excited to prove a pet hypothesis can obtain remarkable results. 8)

  6. I suggest that you drink several beers before each round of Corus next year (for scentific purposes, of course!). Let us know how you do.

  7. Tempo,

    I read your old post and you cite and oft-repeated Urban Legend about alcohol killing off brain cells.

    This is simply not true. Alcohol doesn't kill brain cells at all - it's an Old Wives tale.

    Also, I am assuming your conclusions you stated in your post were tongue-in-cheek and not to be taken seriously, as we know there is mountains of research proving various cognitive and motor-skills are impaired by alcohol, even in moderate amounts.

  8. Jim,
    the emphasis on alcohol was induced by the flow of the comments.
    My conclusions are questionable as ever. But my observations are true and my question stands. Forget the alcohol part and replace it by fever due to sunburn.

  9. Yes, I'm ok right now. Only the shoulders are a little tender. Thanks for asking.