Recently our portal published a translation of an article from the German edition of The Huffington Post titled ” What parents need to give children in the first place .” Material was based on studies of the German neuroscientist Gerald Hyutera, which showed that the best tool a child’s development – it’s a free game, not painted on minutes a day, consisting of a developmental classes and groups. The response of readers prompted us to translate and publish a chapter of a new book Hyutera “Save game» (Rettet das Spiel), written in collaboration with the philosopher Christoph Kvarchia and published in 2016 (Univ. Carl Hanser Verlag München, 2016).

As Friedrich Schiller wrote, “Man plays only when he is in the fullest sense of the word man, and he is quite a man, but when he plays.”

Feel the force that lies in these words. It says here the importance and of the person, and about the game: these concepts are connected very closely. “Be a man” seems to be equivalent here to “play”. Or more precisely: the human being itself, its full disclosure, flourishing, life itself is taking place in the game. This means that if we want to understand what it means to be a man, moreover, is important if we are to truly be human – then obviously we should understand the essence of the game, to understand what happens to us when we play.

Is it possible that the game – this is another dimension of our life in which we find ourselves always, when we start it? It is for this reason that we are particularly sharp and bright feel ourselves alive in the game? But this would mean that the game – it is much more than a simple pastime. This would mean that the game – it is an opportunity to experience the liveliness of his mind, to experience a sense of unity, to explore the possibilities and unleash your creativity. This would mean that every time we play, we find ourselves in a special space where we – active, enthusiastic and creative researchers, creators of their own capabilities. Obviously, it is felt and realized Friedrich Schiller and – as we shall see later – before him a number of other great thinkers: that man only justifies its existence when he was, at least temporarily unable to overcome the limitations of everyday life and open the door from the world of necessity and expediency the world of the possible – the game.

What more could not be formulated and described in terms of a scientific approach, in our time, you can specify and substantiate through scientific discoveries in the time of Schiller. First of all, we are talking about in the field of neuroscience discoveries that have been made over the past two decades. Now we can describe in detail what happens in the brain when we use it not only for the life of the organization, to achieve any goals or harassment of any benefit. Then, when we manage to get to a place where we are free and carefree feel and act, perceive and understand, make discoveries and explore the full range of our capabilities. In the human brain, which thus plays using magnetic resonance imaging can be measured by reducing the amount of oxygen consumed by reducing the activity of nerve cells in the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that is activated when we feel fear.

So, in the game we are freed from fear. Simultaneously, the enhanced activation of the neural networks, which are needed to cope with the challenges of a particular game. The more complex the game, the more these are utilized both networks. This is the decisive prerequisite to ensure that the terms of the new compound set forth in these networks knowledge we came creative thoughts and ideas. In addition, each time a coup, with each successfully solved the problem of the game you can see how certain areas in the midbrain, the so-called “reward centers” start hard “spark.” It is a feeling that we experience as joy, pleasure, sometimes even ecstasy. So the game enhances the joy of life.

The three most important discoveries of neuroscience allow us to more accurately answer the question, why the game is so important, and what happens to us when we play. Whenever we start playing, opens before us a world where disappearing all that prevents us to find and reveal the potential inherent in us in their daily lives. When we play for real, we do not feel the pressure and coercion, and when nothing presses on us, and the fear goes away. Therefore, whenever we play, we have fun, and feel free.

By nature we are not experts in anything – we can do a little, but not particularly good. We are born extremely undifferentiated , with plastic, capable of training the brain, the development of which at the time of birth is far from complete. Thus, we can interact with all that surrounds us. That is, we have the best prerequisites to be a very creative beings. However, this creativity can unfold really only in the case if a child does not have to start too early pressure. In that case, when we have as long as possible after birth, have the opportunity to playfully explore how complex the world works, in which we are destined to live, and how wide the range of our possibilities for the arrangement of this world. The only way we can learn that we need to adapt to the environment in which we will grow.

Some animals are born with is almost mature brain. For example, spiders are able to weave the web without prior training. They do not need to show how it is done, because the necessary connection circuits of nerve cells are formed in their young minds on their own, species-specific manner. Similarly, regulated skills in fish and crocodiles, but in birds – and especially in mammals – these tough matrix are becoming increasingly open. Manage behaviors do not occur by themselves. Progeny must first learn them. The big help in it is rendered suitable examples that make kids see the procedure.

But the decisive role played by their own attempts, learning by trial and error, and the stubborn repetition of all that work.

Young animals are not needed for this school. They play – in the game learn what is useful to them later in life, while automatically building the necessary neural connections in the brain. The kitten plays with his tail, trying to catch it again and again. Bears fight and climb trees. Monkeys chase each other or provoke the senior members of his flock. All animals in the form of a game try, how and what can be done. In developmental biology this is called “exploratory behavior” – and scientists say that human babies feel the same pleasure and delight, when sent to explore and shape their environment when the game exploring how this medium is arranged and what opportunities it gives them.

The desire to explore and create is inherent in all children from birth. This desire they experience before birth and are born with the knowledge of how wonderful something to discover and create their own. In the brain, so even before birth appear appropriate network of neurons that neuroscientists call “pleasure centers”. These “switches” located in the midbrain, are activated when (adults too), when a person is unable through their own efforts to turn arisen in the brain sense of incoherence (incoherent) into something understandable, coherent. This feeling of incoherence emerges as a kind of irritation to a new impression, which can not be classified – neuroscientists call this arousal. If you actively engage in the phenomenon that caused the irritation, the problem most often manages to somehow resolve. Then the feeling of irritation is transformed into joy, sometimes even enthusiasm for himself, but in the brain it all comes back. Everything becomes clear and coherent.

This process activates the pleasure center in the midbrain, and the tips of axons and dendrites of nerve cells are there, neurotransmitters are released. They are about the same as cocaine and heroin, and its part to stimulate other networks that cause the wonderful feeling that sometimes covers the whole body, and which we call the “joy” or “delight”. Simultaneously, these substances (these include primarily catecholamines and other peptides endomorphin) have the effect of stimulating the growth of synapses. They act as a fertilizer and contribute to the further growth of neuronal processes and the formation and fixation of new synapses. Since the existing network to develop further, and all that was involved in the brain to solve problems or generate new knowledge, it is laid in the brain in the form of appropriately reinforced networks firmly and permanently.

Young children experience on a daily basis a large number of seizures of delight, including and subsequent “release fertilizer” in their brains. This is the reason that they so willingly learn so much in such a short period of time. Not through the teachings and instructions and other “development activities”, and due to the fact that every day in the game, they learn a little more about the world, primarily for their ability to explore and shape the world. Try that out. Find out what can be folded, and that can be disassembled. Know yourself, your body, your feelings, your mental abilities, discover their talents and abilities, to train specific skills and develop them to the level of skill – all these children are doing in the game, without intent, aimless and unconscious in themselves. Biologists call this “self-organizing process.”

If everything goes as it should, under favorable conditions, people – not only in childhood, but also later, in adulthood – reveals the potential inherent in it completely independently.

This potential lies in the minds of all those animals who need to learn how to navigate in their environment. During brain development in its various fields of ripening in turn, formed a significant oversupply of connections between nerve cells – the contacts between neurons, called synapses. Those bonds which are useful, which are utilized on a regular basis and which may be incorporated into existing network are stored and locked. The rest of the links are broken. Compared to all animals capable of teaching our children the greatest possible surplus of neural connections, and they have this surplus is retained especially long.

In order to preserve this huge potential build connections in the brain and to develop all embedded within our children the talents and abilities, we would have to give children the opportunity to indulge in the joy of research and creativity, and as long as possible, and in a more diverse environment possible. In other words, they should as much as possible as often as possible, and a variety of ways to play.

To provide them with this opportunity, is not enough to understand that the game is the study of self-empowerment. It is necessary that in our society preconceived notions radically changed that means “play”, which gives the possibility of a “game” and what its biological significance. A key condition for this – as in all other areas in which changes are brewing – increase in the number of scientific discoveries, knowledge about the background of the increase and the importance of this remarkable phenomenon, which we call the “game”.

Translated from German by Alena Chmielewski