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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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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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Neurotechnology, Health and Brain Fitness News

Today we have a num­ber of indus­try announce­ments:

1) New edi­tions of these Blog Car­ni­vals (col­lec­tions of blog posts around spe­cif­ic top­ics)

2) The Neu­rotech­nol­o­gy Indus­try Orga­ni­za­tion has launched a Neu­rotech Job Board ded­i­cat­ed to com­mer­cial neu­ro­science (most­ly focused on clin­i­cal appli­ca­tions, like drugs and devices, not so much on pre­ven­tion, health & well­ness). And the Kaiser Foun­da­tion Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter is look­ing for a Research Project Man­ag­er.

3) The Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence has final­ly released a report of the human enhance­ment work­shop that took place in June 2006. Read more about it at Zack’s blog.

4) Stephanie West Allen and Dr. Jef­frey Schwartz announce the Sched­ule of Events for their Brains On Pur­pose™ Sem­i­nars (“look­ing at con­flict and the process of con­flict res­o­lu­tion through the lens of neu­ro­science”): Col­orado in Octo­ber and Port­land in Novem­ber.

5) Reg­is­tra­tion is now open for my class on The Sci­ence of Brain Health and Brain Fit­ness (more here), Octo­ber 9 30, at UC Berke­ley Osh­er Life­long Learn­ing Insti­tute (OLLI).

6) A cou­ple of great Read the rest of this entry »

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