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date: 05 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter aims to contribute to an improved understanding of the social brain and the rising tide of psychological health in children. It challenges certain misperceptions affecting scientific research and child-oriented policies, and it presents a “play and display” hypothesis that holds that spontaneous communication, play, and performance (social displays), uniquely developed in humans, are a major reason for our enlarged brains and are essential to the development of self/other-awareness, brain maturation, human culture, and healthy child development. The hypothesis is linked to pivotal theories in the social sciences, notably social mirror theory, ritual/speech coevolution theory, and the theory of anti-structure. Implications for child health are discussed, and the argument is supported by evidence relating to epigenesis, brain development, developmental psychology, paleoanthropology, neuroimaging research, and the culture-ready brain. The chapter concludes with some pointers for future child development policy.

Keywords: Anti-structure, brain evolution, child development, culture-ready brain, epigenesis, neuroimaging, performance, play, social display, social mirror

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