Dr. Sergio Pellis Based out of the University of Lethbridge, neuroscience researcher and professor Sergio Pellis examines the relationship between a child’s brain and behaviour during development. Specifically, he looks at the role peer to peer play has in the development of social competence. Using various species, such as laboratory rodents and apes, he has shown rough and tumble play is made up of different subcomponents, such as attack and defence. There are also differences in how such play is modified amongst species and age. Dr. Pellis also believes play may be either crucial for the development of a child’s neurobehavioural systems, or as a way to monitor how such systems work.
Rough and Tumble Play and the Development of the Social Brain
Pellis, S.M. & Pellis, V.C. (2007). Rough and Tumble Play and the Development of the Social Brain. Sage Journals Online: Current Directions in Psychological Science. April 2007.
Rough and tumble play, a recurring feature of childhood is correlated with measures of social competence. Play fighting involves many areas of the brain. In experiments with rats, the areas of the brain that work together to deal with social phenomena are activated. In young rats, it induces the release of chemical growth factors that affect social behavior and cognition. This article also concludes adult rats that were prevented from playing with their peers as juveniles ended up with many emotional and cognitive defects.
The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience
Pellis, S.M. & Pellis V.C. (2010). The Playful Brain: Venturing to the Limits of Neuroscience. New York, N.Y.: One World Publications.