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Cognitive and Emotional Development Through Play

We some­times neglect to men­tion a very basic yet pow­er­ful method of cog­ni­tive and emo­tion­al devel­op­ment, for chil­dren and adults alike: Play.

Dr. David Elkind, author of The Pow­er of Play: Learn­ing That Comes Nat­u­ral­ly, dis­cuss­es the need to build a more “play­ful cul­ture” in this great arti­cle The Power of Play And Learningbrought to you thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine.

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Can We Play?

– By Dr. David Elkind

Play is rapid­ly dis­ap­pear­ing from our homes, our schools, and our neigh­bor­hoods. Over the last two decades alone, chil­dren have lost eight hours of free, unstruc­tured, and spon­ta­neous play a week. More than 30,000 schools in the Unit­ed States have elim­i­nat­ed recess to make more time for aca­d­e­mics. From 1997 to 2003, children’s time spent out­doors fell 50 per­cent, accord­ing to a study by San­dra Hof­ferth at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land. Hof­ferth has also found that the amount of time chil­dren spend in orga­nized sports has dou­bled, and the num­ber of min­utes chil­dren devote each week to pas­sive leisure, not includ­ing watch­ing tele­vi­sion, has increased from 30 min­utes to more than three hours. It is no sur­prise, then, that child­hood obe­si­ty is now con­sid­ered an epi­dem­ic.

But the prob­lem goes well beyond obe­si­ty. Decades of research has shown that play is cru­cial to phys­i­cal, intel­lec­tu­al, and social-emo­tion­al devel­op­ment at all ages. This is espe­cial­ly true of the purest form of play: the unstruc­tured, self-moti­vat­ed, imag­i­na­tive, inde­pen­dent kind, where chil­dren ini­ti­ate their own games and even invent their own rules.

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Cognitive Fitness as a New Frontier of Fitness

emWave for Stress ManagementVery good arti­cle in the LA Times today. Like a Stair­Mas­ter for the brain: Can men­tal work­outs improve the mind’s agili­ty? Baby boomer con­cerns stim­u­late an indus­try expan­sion.

The reporter, Melis­sa Healy, reviews the healthy aging seg­ment in the Brain Fit­ness field. A few select­ed quotes:

- “There is plau­si­bil­i­ty, both bio­log­i­cal and behav­ioral, to the claim that these may work,” says Mol­ly Wag­ster, chief of the Nation­al Insti­tute on Aging’s neu­ropsy­chol­o­gy branch. “But it is still a sit­u­a­tion of ‘buy­er beware.’ ”

- “I see this as a new fron­tier of fit­ness over­all,” says Alvaro Fer­nan­dez, founder and chief exec­u­tive of the web­site Sharp­Brains .com, which tracks the busi­ness and sci­ence of brain-train­ing. Amer­i­cans already under­stand the val­ue of phys­i­cal fit­ness as a means of pre­serv­ing the body’s prop­er func­tion and pre­vent­ing age-relat­ed dis­eases, says Fer­nan­dez. He pre­dicts that cog­ni­tive fit­ness will become a goal to which Amer­i­cans equal­ly aspire as we learn more about aging and the brain.
— (Dr. Elkhonon) Gold­berg, who pro­vides sci­en­tif­ic advice on the web­site http://www.sharpbrains.com/, says that as neu­ro­sci­en­tists use imag­ing tech­nolo­gies to “see” the cel­lu­lar changes that come with learn­ing, he grows more con­fi­dent that well-designed train­ing pro­grams can have dis­cernible every­day effects in pre­serv­ing or repair­ing the intel­lec­tu­al func­tion of old­er adults. “This is shared hard­ware” that’s being changed in the brain, “and to the extent you some­how enhance it, that will have wide-rang­ing effects,” Gold­berg says. “It pro­vides a much more com­pelling raison­tre for this whole busi­ness.”

The arti­cle adds that “Amer­i­cans this year are expect­ed to invest $225 mil­lion in these pro­grams — up from just $70 mil­lion in 2003 — in an effort to tune up the brain, strength­en the mem­o­ry and fore­stall or reverse the cog­ni­tive slip­page that often comes with age, psy­chi­atric dis­ease, stroke or med­ical treat­ments.”

Our break­down for those 2007 US pre­dic­tions are as fol­lows: $80m for the Con­sumer seg­ment, $60m in K12 Edu­ca­tion, $50m in Clin­i­cal appli­ca­tions, and $35m in the Cor­po­rate seg­ment. The Con­sumer seg­ment, with a healthy aging val­ue propo­si­tion, is the most recent one but the most rapid­ly grow­ing.

Read the full arti­cle: Like a Stair­Mas­ter for the brain.

PS: the arti­cle also says “In the last three years, these brain­pow­er-boost­ing pro­grams have pro­lif­er­at­ed, with names like Mind­Fit, Hap­py Neu­ron, Brain Fit­ness and Lumos­i­ty.”.. if there are reporters read­ing this, please avoid future con­fu­sion by nam­ing Posit Science’s pro­gram “Posit Sci­ence Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram 2.0”. Brain Fit­ness refers to the full cat­e­go­ry.

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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