I never learned to dance. Of course feeling very uncoordinated and having left-right issues made me quite happy to stand on the sidelines and avoid the invitations. Good thing there were some sports I liked but it turns out dance is very good for the brain. Neuroscience is now discovering the connections between dance and learning circuits. Judith Lynne Hanna, PhD, is sharing the research. Help your kids learn to dance. Turns out it would have helped with the coordination and the left-right issues. Make it fun and just do it.
Is it merely art? Is it just recreation? Think again.
Dance is now being studied as a pathway to enhance learning. And, scientists say, educators and parents should take note of the movement.
Recently at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, more than 6,800 attendees paid rapt attention to renowned choreographer Mark Morris as he answered questions about the relationship between creativity and dance.
Scientists are turning to dance because it is a multifaceted activity that can help them—and ultimately educators and even parents– demystify how the brain coordinates the body to perform complex, precise movements that express emotion and convey meaning. Dancers possess an extraordinary skill set—coordination of limbs, posture, balance, gesture, facial expression, perception, and action in sequences that create meaning in time and space. Dancers deal with the relationship between experience and observation.
The brain hides from our sight the wondrously complex operations that underlie this feat. Although there are many secrets to unravel about the power of the brain and dance, advances in technology– such as brain scanning techniques and the experiments of dancers, dance makers, and dance viewers– reveal to us the unexpected. Research shows that dance activity registers in regions of the brain responsible for cognition.
More than 400 studies related to interdisciplinary neuroscience reveal the hidden value of dance. For instance, we acquire knowledge and develop cognitively because dance bulks up the brain. Consequently, the brain that “dances” is changed by it. As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio points out, “Learning and creating memory are simply the process of chiseling, modeling, shaping, doing, and redoing our individual brain wiring diagrams.”
Image courtesy of AccessDanceforLife