Gordon Burghardt: University of TennesseeOur understanding of the evolution, phylogeny, and functions of playfulness in animals is surprisingly minimal, largely because the function of play in both human and nonhuman animals remains controversial. Consequently, biologists have typically ignored play. After all, something frivolous and fun cannot be too important as compared to feeding, mating, fighting, and rearing young. In recent years, however, much research has advanced our understanding of play. This includes identifying play and its diversity, the neuroscience of play, the ontogeny and functions of play, and theoretical and modeling contributions. This talk will explore some of this recent work and where play research may be heading.