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Dancers learn by watching

Dance builds a connection between imagination and the use of the body.  The studies noted in Scientific American, combined with the passion and emotion of dance make dancing unique.

Here is what Steven Brown and Lawrence M Parsons have to say:

Both investigations highlight the fact that learning a complex motor sequence activates, in addition to a direct motor system for the control of muscle contractions, a motor-planning system that contains information about the body’s ability to accomplish a specific movement. The more expert people become at some motor pattern, the better they can imagine how that pattern feels and the more effortless it probably becomes to carry out.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-neuroscience-of-dance&page=3

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Watch dance to fire more brain cells

Here is what Steven Brown and Lawrence M. Parsons say in Scientific American:

Watching dance fires the brain and even more so when the viewer has learned the style of dance they are watching.  Here is what Scientific American has to say:

Investigators have found that when people watch simple actions, areas in the premotor cortex involved in performing those actions switch on, suggesting that we mentally rehearse what we see—a practice that might help us learn and understand new movements. Researchers are examining how widely humans rely on such imitation circuits.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-neuroscience-of-dance&page=2

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Dance to the music for your brain

Dance and music combined fires the brain more than either movement alone or music alone. 

Here is what Steven Brown and Lawrence M. Parsons say in Scientific American:

Next we compared our dance scans to those taken while our subjects performed tango steps in the absence of music. By eliminating brain regions that the two tasks activated in common, we hoped to reveal areas critical for the synchronization of movement to music. Again this subtraction removed virtually all the brain’s motor areas. The principal difference occurred in a part of the cerebellum that receives input from the spinal cord. Although both conditions engaged this area—the anterior vermis—dance steps synchronized to music generated significantly more blood flow there than self-paced dancing did.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-neuroscience-of-dance&page=2

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Dance so your brain knows where you are

Here is what Steven Brown and Lawrence M. Parsons say in Scientific American:

We believe that the precuneus contains a kinesthetic map that permits an awareness of body positioning in space while people navigate through their surroundings. Whether you are waltzing or simply walking a straight line, the precuneus helps to plot your path and does so from a body-centered or “egocentric” perspective.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-neuroscience-of-dance