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Neuroscience and Play

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Jess Hayes

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of Neuroscience and Play

Neuroscience and Play
The Studies of Neuroscience
Research on brain development shows that play impacts health, development and fitness; normal, healthy play builds healthy brains, enhances learning and supports development
Neuroscience draws from psychology, neurology, biology and physiology
Research has not conclusively stated that specific educational programs are necessary, but guidelines for early childhood education are emerging. (Frost, Wortham, and Reifel, 2011)
Great article on Brain Development Research:
History of Neuroscience and Development
The 1990s were called "The decade of the brain." The U.S. had 3,000 brain researchers. The first decade of the 21st century witnessed an even higher growth in brain research.
The 1960s: Scholars concluded from animal/human studies that the brain is most plastic during infancy and early childhood - this was influenced by environment.
J. McVicker Hunt (1961): Fixed intelligence is no longer plausible. IQ varies depending on environmental stimulation.
(Frost, Wortham, and Reifel, 2011)
Piaget and William James
Piaget's work on cognitive structures:
Formation of brain structures depends on use of action sequences
Rate of development seems to be a result of stimulation during infancy and early childhood
Psychologist William James:
"Plasticity" - Organic matter (brain structure) is malleable through experience.
21st Century:
Plasticity is a characteristic of all brain systems (language, auditory, visual, attention) and is shaped by experience.
(Frost, Wortham, and Reifel, 2011)
Neurons, Synapses, Plasticity
Children are born with more neurons than they will have as adults; the density of synapses increases in areas that are used (music, sports, foreign language).
(Frost, Wortham, and Reifel, 2011)
The responses of the social and physical environments to infants and toddlers influence the creation of synapses. The experiences of a child are the stimulation that sparks the activity between axons and dendrites and creates synapses. Neurons that are used will strengthen, and those that are unused will eventually disappear. The quality of experiences and relationships in the first three years of life has a deep and lasting impact on how the brain develops.
(Southern Early Childhood Association, n.d.).
Play Deprivation
Sensory and motor experience impact brain development before birth. Brain development of fetus is negatively influenced by drugs, stress, malnutrition, illness, trauma and abuse by mother.
Neglect by parents and lack of stimulation affects brain development, and can result in reduction of capacity for later learning. These influences are associated with poverty.
Example: Romanian orphans were neglected with no stimulation. Some never learned to talk, read, or accept love, and their brains showed differences when compared to normal children. Some progress was made with intense therapy (including play therapy).
(Frost, Wortham, and Reifel, 2011)

Brain Development and Play
Early Brain Development

Gable, S. & Hunting, M. (2013). Child development: Nature, nurture, and early brain development. Retrieved from http://extension.missouri.edu/explorepdf/hesguide/humanrel/gh6115.pdf
Frost, J. L., Wortham, S. C., & Reifel, S. (2011). Play and child development. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association. (2010). The importance of play: Cognitive benefits. Retrieved from http://voiceofplay.org/content.aspx?pID=18
Southern Early Childhood Association. (n.d.). Brain research and its implications for early childhood programs. Retrieved from http://www.southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Brain_Research__Its_Implications.pdf

Learn More:
Brain Research in Early Childhood: http://www.southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Brain_Research__Its_Implications.pdf
Effects of Play Deprivation: http://www.nifplay.org/whitman.html
Movement Activities Promote Academics: http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/SKIPing_GoodwayBTJ.pdf
Theory of Multiple Intelligences: https://oldweb.naeyc.org/ece/1997/13.asp
Play is essential for brain development. Play experiences affect neurological development and determine how the neural circuits of the brain are wired. Play helps children develop language and reasoning skills, encourages autonomous thinking and problem solving, and helps kids improve their ability to focus and control their behavior. Through play, children learn discovery, verbal skills, judgment and reasoning, manipulative skills and creativity, and they improve their thought processes (International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association, 2010).
All healthy, young mammals play. The complexity of play increases as neurons make connections.
Levels of play for young children shows to be more complex and active.
Early games equip children for later needed skills (motor, language, negotiation skills).
Play is essential for healthy brain development and wiring of neural circuits.
(Frost, Wortham, and Reifel, 2011)
Neuroscience and Play
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