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How Play Supports Our Autonomic Regulation: New Research & Podcast

Listen to Darcia Narvaez and Mary Tarsha discuss the benefits of one of our nine Evolved Nest components: PLAY. These new insights are based on recent research into play by Darcia and Mary.

Listen to the podcast here and below.

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About the Research

Play is associated with regulatory behaviors such as delay of gratification and modulation of emotions, suggesting that play might positively relate to the physiological mechanisms underlying self-regulation. We hypothesized that opportunities for social free play with peers, as reported by mothers, would predict children’s autonomic regulation (via Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia) in a sample of 78 five-year-old children. As a proxy for play experience generally, frequency of social free play in the past week predicted higher levels of RSA functioning across three time points, baseline, stress, and recovery, but did not account for physiological rate of change between conditions. Social free play opportunities might positively influence children’s physiological functioning, at baseline and under stress, by supporting increased parasympathetic activation. This link deserves further exploration as children’s free play opportunities might be declining, yielding possible implications for children’s parasympathetic activation, social engagement, and prosocial behavior.

Here is the research paper:…96755-1-1673972527735

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