Power of Play | Huberman Lab Podcast #58

Episode Webpage here

Key Takeaways

  • Play is the ultimate portal to plasticity.
  • Play allows us to explore different outcomes in a low-stakes environment.
  • The “Tinkerers” of the world maintained a strong sense of play throughout their life
  • The State of playfulness gets you to play BEST, even in competitive scenarios.

Resources Mentioned

Intro

  • Host of the Huberman Lab Podcast, Dr. Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. (@HubermanLab) is a Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine. His lab focuses on neural regeneration, neuroplasticity, and brain states such as stress, focus, fear, and optimal performance.
  • This podcast explores the necessity of play and how it forms us as human beings.
  • We read better on paper than smartphones. We do not do a physiological sigh when we read on electronics

 Play and the Brain

  • Play is Homeostatically Regulated. – If we’re restricted from playing for a certain amount of time, we need more play.  Needs to remain in balance
  •  Play releases natural opioids from the periaqueductal gray (PAG)
  • The prefrontal cortex sees and explores many different possibilities of how to interact with our environment while in a state of play.
  • Beneficial social play involves low amounts of epinephrine (adrenaline).
  • Play is the most powerful portal to neuroplasticity. BDNF is deployed in play.
  • Epinephrine and adrenaline suppress our ability to play.
  • Novel forms of movement open the portal to plasticity. Engage the vestibular system – balance. 

Childhood Play Evolution

  • The Baby Brain -we need things delivered to us
  • Toddlers – Everything is MINE
  • Young children – Children go from self-centered play to sharing and cooperative play. 
  • 10-14 years old peak time for development and play identity

Playful Mindset

  • By entering new situations, you’re working out your brain. Novelty increases plasticity.
  • Play allows us to explore different outcomes in a low-stakes environment. 
  • Observing how you and others react to situations while playing forms how we interact in the world. Are you/they Cheating? Rigid in the rules? Sad if you lose?
  • These observations help you understand yourself and others. We discover our proficiencies through play
  • “Play is about testing, experimenting, and expanding the brain’s capacity”
  • Adults and children establish their roles and form hierarchies through play.

Play Postures

  • Eye contact with a lowered down head. We make ourselves smaller and less intimidating. We limit power deliberately
  • Head tilted with eyes open is the universal play posture. Might raise eyebrows and purse lips
  • Most extreme play – eyes wide open tongue out. 

Adulthood Play 

  • Animals that engage in play for the longest amount of time have the largest neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change
  • Famous Physicist Richard Feynman was a lifelong tinkerer with a playful spirit. Something he worked very hard to maintain throughout his adulthood.
  • 0-25 y/o we learn things through passive exposure because our nerve cells are overconnected.
  • 40% of these interconnections are gone after age 25. It’s the removal of incorrect connections and the strengthening of remaining connections.
  • Through the process of play, we become and adjust who we are as adults.
  • Neurochemical substrates created by trauma shuts down play circuits. By engaging in play as adults, we can re-open these substrates.
  • We are built to play. Play circuits remain in adulthood.

Personal Play Identity

  • 4 Factors determine our play identity 
    • How you play – competitive, cooperative, leader, follower?
    • Your personality
    • Sociocultural and environment 
    • Economics and technology
Huberman Lab : , , ,
Notes By Paul Keating

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