IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 5021: Heart and Brain Responses to Real Versus Simulated Chess Games in Trained Chess Players: A Quantitative EEG and HRV Study (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
The aim of the present study was to investigate how the heart and the brain react to playing chess with a computer versus in a real context in chess players. We also aim to investigate if familiarization with simulated practice leads to changes in heart rate variability (HRV) and the electroencephalographic (EEG) power spectrum. We designed a cross-sectional study, enrolling 27 chess players. They were randomly assigned to 3 minutes plus 2-second chess games: one with a computer (simulated scenario), and another in a real context. Additionally, participants were divided into two groups according to their level of familiarization of playing chess in a computer context. While they were playing, HRV and EEG were continuously recorded. Differences in HRV and EEG theta power spectrum between playing chess in a real or a simulated scenario were not found in chess players (p-value > 0.05). When participants were divided into groups (familiarized and unfamiliarized with simulated chess practice), significant differences were observed in HRV and EEG (p-value < 0.05). The EEG theta power spectrum was significantly lower, and HRV was higher in unfamiliarized players during the simulated scenario, which could indicate that they were less focused in a simulated environment than in a real context. Therefore, familiarization with simulated environments should be taken into account during the training process to achieve the best performance.