The Biology of Play

After reading Dr. Stuart Brown’s book about the role of play across species and the biological benefits of play, I had to share! We already know that children learn best through play, but did you know this is true for adults too?

Dr. Brown explains that play is a basic biological drive across species (from octopi to ants!) Play is as vital to our health as sleep and nutrition. When we play, our creative right brain is engaged and our mind is open to think in new, innovative ways. As humans, we are meant to play throughout life whether it’s through art, music, social connection or physical activity. Play is the most advanced process for promoting brain development and social integration throughout species. So, play is important not only for our children, but for us adults too!

Keep in mind what Dr. Karyn Purvis of Texas Christian University says, it takes over 400 repetitions to create a synapse in the brain (true learning) without playful engagement OR about 12 repetitions to create a synapse when you use play to teach. So, if you really want to effectively and efficiently teach your children (or anyone for that matter), use PLAY!


Brown, Stuart (2009). Play: how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York: Penguin Group.

Some information derived or reproduced from Trust-Based Relational Intervention® resources (Purvis & Cross, 1999-2012).

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About Stevie Wilson, LPC

Stevie Wilson is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in working with children and families.

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