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Brains at play

3 minutes

Playing distracts us from many vital activities. Why did we evolve to love it?

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

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Essay/
Neuroscience
The theory of mind myth

Even experts can’t predict violence or suicide. Surely we’re kidding ourselves that we can see inside the minds of others

Robert Burton

Essay/
Social Psychology
In extremis

As Hannah Arendt argued, there is one common thread which connects individuals drawn to all kinds of extremist ideologies

Nabeelah Jaffer