First sad music and now dancing has been shown to increase brain function.
Psychology Today reports on two studies that demonstrate the benefits of dance on brain function. And while the studies focused on highly-trained ballet dancers, the article maintains that including some type of dance with regular aerobic training at least once a week can do the trick — good news for those who spend more time in the club than the dance studio.
In the first study, researchers from Imperial College London found that dancing may help improve balance and reduce dizziness. In a paper titled “The Neuroanatomical Correlates of Training-Related Perceptuo-Reflex Uncoupling in Dancers,” research suggests that training suppresses signals from the balance organs in the inner ear that are linked to the cerebellum.
“It’s not useful for a ballet dancer to feel dizzy or off balance. Their brains adapt over years of training to suppress that input,” says Imperial’s Dr. Barry Seemungal. “Consequently, the signal going to the brain areas responsible for perception of dizziness in the cerebral cortex is reduced, making dancers resistant to feeling dizzy. If we can target that same brain area or monitor it in patients with chronic dizziness, we can begin to understand how to treat them better.”
Furthermore, an article titled “The Cognitive Benefits of Movement Reduction: Evidence From Dance Marking” (published in Psychological Science), research shows that dancers can improve the ability to do complex moves by walking through them slowly and encoding the movement with a cue through ‘marking’. Marking involves a dry-run of a routine routine, which focuses more on the order of the moves than their execution. The researchers found that this type of visualization allowed the dancers to memorize the sequence better, a process that could maximize performance elsewhere.