Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cognition and "The Ball"

If you are planning to attend a dinner party and want an interesting conversation starter or if you are just looking for a good read, just tune into your local NPR station.  As you may have noticed, several posts and much inspiration has sprung from interesting stories I heard on Philadelphia's public radio station, WHYY.

Today's post and inspiration are no exception.  While listening to Marketplace on my way home from school, I heard an interview with John Fox, author of the new book The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game.  Through historical narratives and personal anecdotes, Fox describes the cultural significance of play and games, as well as the cognitive importance of such physical activity.

According to recent research, even tuning into a ball game on TV excites particular neurons in the brain and may have positive effects on cognition.  Even better, these neurons are five times more stimulated when a person physically participates in sport.  There are also countless social and health benefits for developing minds in playing both organized and disorganized active games.

This generation of children are participating in these kinds of physical activities and pick-up ball games less and less and many studies show this may be to their detriment both in overall health and cognition.  Fox even discusses the seemingly innate nature in all mammals to play, particularly with the universal plaything for which the book is named - the ball. 

I haven't yet read this book, but it is downloading onto my Kindle as I type this.  It sounds like a great read, but I am particularly interested in the research about play and the social, emotional and cognitive development of children's minds.  Check it out!


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