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The behavioral and neurobiological connections between play and the development of critical cognitive functions, such as attention, remain largely unknown. We do not yet know how these connections relate to the formation of specific abilities, such as spatial ability, and to learning in formal environments, such as in the classroom. Insights into these issues would be beneficial not only for understanding play, attention, and learning individually, but also for the development of more efficacious systems for learning and for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders. This meeting report provides a synopsis of the conference “Play, Attention, and Learning: How Do Play and Timing Shape the Development of Attention and Facilitate Classroom Learning?,” held on June 15, 2012 and presented by the New York Academy of Sciences and the Brain Trauma Foundation. The report outlines important research steps that need to be taken in order to address critical questions about play, human activity, and cognitive functions.
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