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Like breathing, sleeping and eating, playing is innate in humans. But unlike those other functions, which could easily mean the difference between a long life and an early death, the usefulness of play isn’t quite as obvious. Brains at Play investigates play through the work of Jaak Panksepp, professor of integrative psychology and neuroscience at Washington State University, who conducted pioneering research on play. By performing surgery on rats, Panksepp discovered that the instinct to play exists in the primitive part of the mammalian brain, and has surprisingly important implications for social development.
Producer: John Poole
Website: NPR Ed
Love evolves and death isn’t worth your worry – life lessons from an 88-year-old
Film and visual culture
A series of animated illusions illustrates how we project depth on to flat surfaces
Building ‘bigger and better’ has pushed cosmology forward. Can it take it any further?
Watch the elegant flow of a sheep herd, seen from the sky above Israel
How would a piano sound on Mars? Embark on an interplanetary sonic journey
When two punk bands came to a psychiatric hospital, beautiful chaos ensued
Design and fashion
Gear up for a stylish celebration of vintage motorcycle design
An ode to the humble rotifer – one of nature’s simplest and strangest creatures
Check in to the Hilbert Hotel, and learn why some infinities are bigger than others