National Public Radio has a new series of stories on play in children and animals. In this report, they interview scientists who have studied how play affects the brain.
The scientists in the interview do not go into much detail on the methods that they have used to study play. However, the article provides a good chance to classify claims. For each of the following statements (each quoted from the story) a) is this a frequency, association, or causal claim? and b) What are the variables in each claim?
1. When ....rats are young, play appears to initiate lasting changes in areas of the brain used for thinking and processing social interactions, Panskepp says.
2. ... we found that of the 1,200 genes that we measured, about one-third of them were significantly changed simply by having a half-hour of play
3. Play also helps both people and animals become more adept socially, Pellis says.
4. ....the skills associated with play ultimately lead to better grades.
5. The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain
6. countries where they actually have more recess tend to have higher academic performance than countries where recess is less.
In addition to classifying these claims and variables, perhaps you can also propose the type of study (e.g., experimental or correlational) you would be looking for, to support each claim?
Photo credit: Aung Pyae Soe/National Geographic Creative
Suggested Answers (Even numbered items)
2. This is a causal claim ("changed" is a causal verb). The variables are "whether or not a gene is changed" and "playing for 30 minutes or not"
4. This is a causal claim ("ultimately lead to" implies that ) The variables are "the level of skill associated with play" and "quality of grades."
6. This is an association claim ("tend to have" is an association phrase). The variables are "how much recess" and "level of academic performance."