2012 Conference on Neuroesthetics

The Importance of Being Playful


Neuroscientists have begun to unravel how play affects brain maturation, social competency, impulse control and stress reduction, how it engenders positive emotions by stimulating endorphins and dopamine, the role of mirror neurons in collective enactments of joy, or the effect of rough-and-tumble play in increasing dentrital arborization in the orbito-frontal cortex, which is involved with cooperation and social competency.

This conference highlighted the importance of play as a fundamental expression of humanity and charted its ontological significance and stake out the role of play in the 21st century. 


Margaret Boden
Research Professor of Cognitive Science
University of Sussex
"Play, Art and Creativity"

Jeff Hull
Founding Director of the Jejeune Institute
"Blur the Lines, Situational Design Applications in the Civic Realm"

Mark Moffett
National Museum of Natural History
"Ants as Complex Beings: Seriousness and Play Among the Insects"

Phillip Prager
Lecturer – Designing Digital Play, IT University of Copenhagen
Research Associate, Minerva Foundation
"Play and the Avant-Garde: Aren’t We All a Little Dada?"

Anthony Pellegrini
Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota
"Object Use in Childhood: Development and Possible Functions"

Baba Brinkman
Rapper and Playwright
"Wordplay: From Chaucer to Darwin to Dr. Dre"

Leonard Pitt                                                                          Actor, author, teacher and founder of the oldest chocolate club in America                                                                                          "Playing For Life"                                                                            

Beau Lotto
Reader in Neuroscience
Director of LottoLab, University College London
"Seeing the Light"


Isabel Behncke
Oxford University
"Adaptive Joker Hypothesis"

 Scott Eberle
Vice-President for Play Studies, The Strong
Editor, The American Journal of Play
"Playing with Multiple Intelligences"




Nicholas Keynes Humphrey
Emeritus Professor of Psychology,
London School of Economics
"Dreaming as Play"

Sergio Pellis
Professor of Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge
"A Playful Brain Makes for a More Adaptable Brain"

Shakti Belway
Human rights lawyer
"Play as a Social and Political Catalyst"

Stuart Brown
Director of the National Institute for Play
"From Play to Innovation: Play as a Long-Term Survival Necessity"


Marc Bekoff
Emeritus Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado
"Animals at Play: Why Joy and Fairness are the Names of the Game"