Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain
In this article, adapted from Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Sandra Aamodt’s book Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College (Bloomsbury USA, 2011; OneWorld Publications, 2011), the authors explore how play enhances brain development in children. As Wang and Aamodt describe, play activates the brain’s reward circuitry but not negative stress responses, which can facilitate attention and action. Through play, children practice social interaction and build skills and interests to draw upon in the years to come.
Video Games Affect the Brain—for Better and Worse
Headlines about how video games affect the brain range from upbeat to dire. Psychologist Douglas A. Gentile asserts that although violent games in particular can have negative consequences, well-designed games can teach positive skills. He proposes five attributes of video game design that can help explain findings and guide future research.
Prancing Primates, Turtle with ToysIt’s More Than Just (Animal) Play
Human offspring aren’t the only ones who love to play. In the struggle for survival, why did evolution favor play in species from rats to ravens? Based on new research about the connections between brain development and play, behavioral biologist Dugatkin puts some hypotheses to the test. Why do young ravens play with virtually any new kind of object they encounter but adult ravens fear anything new? Why do fierce older chimps let their little brothers win the tussle? The answers, writes Dugatkin, show that play is serious brain business, both in humans and in other species.