Can PLAY diminish ADHD and facilitate the construction of the social brain?

The diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) has been increasing at an alarming rate, paralleled by the prescription of highly effective psychostimulants whose developmental effects on growing brains remain inadequately characterized. One reason for the increasing incidence of ADHD may be the diminishing availability of opportunities for pre-school children to engage in natural self-generated social play. Pre-clinical work indicates that play can facilitate behavioral inhibition in growing animals, while psychostimulants reduce playfulness. The idea that intensive social play interventions, throughout early childhood, may alleviate ADHD symptoms remains to be evaluated. As an alternative to the use of play-reducing psychostimulants, society could establish play “sanctuaries ” for at-risk children in order to facilitate frontal lobe maturation and the healthy development of pro-social minds.

The diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) has been increasing at an alarming rate, paralleled by the prescription of highly effective psychostimulants whose developmental effects on growing brains remain inadequately characterized. One reason for the increasing incidence of ADHD may be the diminishing availability of opportunities for pre-school children to engage in natural self-generated social play. Pre-clinical work indicates that play can facilitate behavioral inhibition in growing animals, while psychostimulants reduce playfulness. The idea that intensive social play interventions, throughout early childhood, may alleviate ADHD symptoms remains to be evaluated. As an alternative to the use of play-reducing psychostimulants, society could establish play “sanctuaries ” for at-risk children in order to facilitate frontal lobe maturation and the healthy development of pro-social minds.

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