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Stuart Brown_ Why play is vital -- no matter your age Part 1

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So here we go. A fly by of play. Its gotta be serious if the New York Times puts a cover story of their February 17th Sunday magazine about Play. At the bottom of this it says its deaper then gendere, seriously but dangerously fun and a sandbox for new ideas about evolution. Not bad, except if you look at that cover, whats missing? You see any adults? Well lets go back to the 15th century. This is a courtyard in Europe and a mixer of 124 different kinds of play. All ages, solo play, body play, games, taunting, and there it is. And I think this is a typical picture of what it was like in a courtyard then, I think we may have lost something in our culture. So I am going to take you through what I think is a remarkable sequence. North of Church Hill Manitoba in October, November there’s no ice on Huston bay, and this polar bear you see is a 1200 hundred pound male he’s wild and fairly hungry and Norbert rustling a German photographer is their unseen making a series of photos of these huskies who are tethered. And from out of stages left comes this wild male polar bear with a predatory gaze, any of you been to Africa or by had a junkyard dog come after you there is a fixed kind of predatory gaze that you know you are in trouble. But on the other side of that predatory gaze is a female husky in a play bal wagging her tail and something very unusual happens at that fixed behavior. Which is rigid and stereotyped and ends up with a meal changes. And this polar bear stands over the husky, no claws extended, no fangs, taking a look and they begin an incredible ballet. A play ballet, this is in nature it overrides the carnivorous nature and what otherwise would have been a short fight to the death. And if you will begin to look closely at the husky that’s barring her throat to the polar bear, and look a little more closely there in an altered state, there in a state of play and its that state that allows these two creatures to explore the possible. They are beginning to do something that neither would have done without the play signals and it is a marvelous example of how a differential in power can be overridden by a process of nature that’s within all of us. Now how did I get involved in this…. John mentioned that I’ve done some work with murders and I have the Texas Texas tower murder open my eyes and in retrospect when we studied his uh tragic mass murder to the importance of play in that individual by deep study was found to have severe play depravation Charles Whitman was his name. and our committee which consisted of a lot of hard scientists did feel that the end of that study that the absence of play in a progressive suppression of developmentally normal play let him to be more vulnerable to the to the tragedy that he pretreated. And that finding has stood the test of time unfortunately even and into more recent times at Virginia tech. and other studies of populations at risk sensitized me to the importance of play play but I didn’t really understand what it was and it was many years in taking play history of individuals. Before I really began to recognize that I didnt really have a full understanding of it and I dont think any of us have a full understanding of it by any means but there are ways of looking at it that I think can give you give us all taxonomy or way of thinking about it. In this image is for humans the beginning point of play. When that mother and infant lock eyes and the infant is old enough to have a social smile what happens spontaneously is the eruption of joy on the part of the mother she begins to babble and go and smile and so does the baby. if we got them wired up with an electoral suffered graham the right brain of each of them becomes attuned. So that the joyful emergence of this earliest of play scenes and the physiology of that is something we are beginning to get a handle on. And I'd like you to think that every bit of more complex play builds on this base. for us humans. So now I am going to take you through sorta of a way of looking at play but its never just singly one thing. We're going to look at body play, which is spontaneous, desired to get are selves out of gravity. This is a mountain goat. If your having a bad day try this, jump up and down wiggle around, your going to feel better. and you may feel like this character. who is also so just doing it for its own sake. It doesnt have a particular purpose and that's what great about play. If its purpose is more important then the act of doing it, then its probably not play. And there's a whole other type of play which is object play and this Japanese macaque has made a snowball, that he or she is going to roll down a hill. And they dont throw it at each other, but this is a fundamental part of being playful. The human hand and manipulation of objects, is a hand in search of a brain the brain is in search of a hand and play is a medium by which those two are linked in the best way JPL, we heard, we heard this morning, JPL is an incredible place, they have located two consultants, Frank Willson and Nate Johnson, who are, Frank Wilson is a neurologist, Nate Johnson is a mechanic he taught mechanics in a high school in Long Beach and found that his students were no longer able to solve problems. And he tried to figure out why, and he came to the conclusion quite on his own that the students that could no longer solve problems, such as fix cars hadnt worked with their hands Frank Wilson had written a book called "The Hand", they got together JPL hired them, now JPL and NASA and Boeing before they will hire a research and development problem solver even if their Sue la quaid from Harvard or Cal Tech, if they havent fixed cars, havent done stuff with their hands early in life, played with their hands, they cant problem solve So play is practical and its very important. Now one of the things about play is it born by curiosity, and exploration, but it has to be safe exploration this happens to be ok, hes an anatomically interested little boy, and thats his mom, other situations wouldn't be quite so good, but curiosity exploration are part of the play scene If you want to belong, you need social play. And social play is a part of what we are about here today and it is a by product the play scene. Rough and tumble play, these lions seen from a distance looked like they were fighting but if you look closely their kinda like the polar bear and huskie no claws, flat fur, soft eyes, open mouth with no fangs, balletic movements, curved linear movements, all specific to play and rough and tumble play, is a great learning medium for all of us. Preschool kids for example should be allowed to dive, hit, whistle, scream be chaotic, and develop through that alot of emotional regulation and alot of the other social by products cognitive, emotional, and physical, come as a part of rough and tumble play. Spectator play, retrial play, were evolved in some of that. Those of you who are from Boston, know this was a moment rare, where the Red Sox's won the World Series but take a look at the face and body language of everybody in this fuzzy picture and you can get a sense that they are all at play. imaginative play, I love this this picture cause my daughter, is now almost 40 thats in this picture, but it reminds me of her story telling and her imagination, her ability to spin yarns at this age preschool. Really important of being a player is imaginative solo play. And I love this one because its kinda also what we are about, we all have an internal narative that's are own inner story. The unit of intelligibility of most of are brains is the story. I'm telling you a story today about play. Well this bushmen I think is talking about the fish that got away, that was that long, but its a fundamental part of the play scene. So what does play do for the brain. Well alot We dont know a whole lot about what it does for the human brain because funding has not been exactly heavy for research on play I walked into the Carnagy asking for a grant, they given me a large grant when i was active damison, for the study of Felony drunken drivers and i thought I had a pretty good track record, by the time I had spent a half an hour talking about play it was obvious that they were not, did not feel play was serious. I think that, thats a few years back, I think that wave past, and the play wave is cresting. because there is some good science, the nothing lights up the brain like play three dimensional play fires up the cerebellum puts a lot of impluses into the frontal lob the executive portion, helps conceptional be developed and and and and so for me its been an extremely nourishing scholarly adventure to look at the neuro science associated with play and bring together people who an individual disciplines hadn't really thought of it that way. and thats part of what the national institution for play is all about. And this is one of the ways you can study, is to get a 256 lead electroencephalogram, im sorry i dont have a playful looking subject but it allows mobility which is limited the actual study of play and we got a mother infant play scenario to complete under the way at the moment. the reason i put this hear is also to que up my thoughts about objectifying what play does The animal world has objectified it. In the animal world, if you take rats who have who are hardwired to play at a certain period juvenile years and you supress play they squeak, they wrestle, they pin each other, thats part of their play If you stop that behavior, on one group your experimenting with and you allow it in another group your experimenting with and then you present those rats with a cat odor saturated collar, their hardwired to flee and hide , pretty smart, they dont want to get killed by a cat. So what happens? they both hide out, the non-players, never come out, they die they die, the players slowly explore the environment, and begin again to test things out.

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 31 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 51
Posted by: atrctech on Sep 16, 2011

Stuart Brown_ Why play is vital -- no matter your age Part 1

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