play deficits

Stuart Brown notes that: “There is laboratory evidence that there is a play deficit much like the well-documented sleep deficit. And just as a sleep deficit generates a need for extra ‘rebound’ sleep to catch up, laboratory research shows that animals that are deprived of play will engage in ‘rebound’ play when allowed to do so again. While we don’t have statistical evidence that the same happens in humans, anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers, as well as data gathered in many adult play histories I’ve conducted, indicate that humans also feel a much more intense desire to play when they have gone a long time without it.
The flip side of the play drive is what it does for us when engaged. From the same play histories, I believe that we have anecdotal evidence that with enough play, the brain works better. We feel more optimistic and creative. We revel in novelties – a new fashion, new car, a new joke. And through our embrace of the new we are attracted to situations that test skills we do not need now, but may need in the future. We find ourselves saying, ‘I did it just for the heck of it, but it turned out to be good for me.” (p.43)

“A study done in Okinawa, Japan, by the National Geographic Society revealed that engaging in activities like playing with young children was as important as diet and exercise in fostering the Okinawans’ legendary longevity. I remember one particular guy from my own trip there, a wood-carver who was reputed to be close to one hundred. Through a translator, he told me that he laughed all the time as he was carving. I bought a small wooden Buddha from him and asked him what was the longest time he spent on one carving. Two years, he said, and laughed.” (p.72)

Ref: Stuart Brown (2009) Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. Avery: New York

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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