The importance of play.

In today’s fast changing world of constantly evolving technology and increasingly fluid job markets it seems that creating opportunities for play during early years of development is more essential than ever. Yet the continued focus on narrowly defined academic outcomes and assessments based simply on the recall of facts, encourage traditional rote learning teaching methods at the expense of more flexible and open opportunities for creativity and play. 

Research into developmental neuropsychology has repeatedly emphasised the importance of play in healthy child development and its fundamental importance to learning.  

Various animal studies into play in mammals and primates suggest that the opportunity for play during the juvenile period of development is essential in normal social development and in promoting behavioural flexibility essential for survival.  Animals that are prevented from playing develop rigid and inflexible responses that can lead problems adapting to novel circumstances and changes in their environment. Play is essential to learning new behaviours and effectively adapting to changes in our circumstances.

 

Playing Games enhance Cognitive Flexibility

The capacity to think creatively and solve complex problems requires the ability to shift between alternative perspectives, what in neuropsychology is referred to as Cognitive Flexibility. This capacity involves specific brain regions known as the prefrontal cortex.  Psychologists define cognitive flexibility as the ability to shift between alternative options and sets information in order to adapt to new and changing circumstances. Cognitive flexibility has been found to be the underlying capacity that promotes creative thinking, problem solving, forward planning and lateral thinking. 

Mounting evidence from the neuropsychological research suggests that this higher order brain function can be enhanced by playing games designed to stimulate cognitive flexibility.  There is now a substantive research literature that demonstrates that playing games lead to structural changes in the prefrontal cortex and that these benefits are enduring and generalize to various aspects of functioning including academic success, social and emotional regulation as well as capacity to recover from injury.

Our games and puzzles are designed to stimulate and enhance cognitive flexibility.