The Frontal Cortex

Dance and Neuroscience

The body control on this guy is utterly insane:

While there have been some interesting studies of dance and the brain, most of this research focuses on the learning of motor movements. (Not surprisingly, expert dancers exhibit increased activity in the cortical “action observation network” when watching dances “in the movement style of which they were expert”. In other words, a ballet dancer shows increased activity in the brain when watching ballet, but not when watching cheerleaders, or Merce Cunningham.)

But I couldn’t find any research that would explain the bizarre, and seemingly inhuman, youtube performance above. There have been some elegant studies of brain plasticity in London taxi drivers (swollen hippocampuses) and string players (enlarged somatosensory representation for the left hand) but I’d be curious if dancers also exhibit distinct brain structures as a result of their training. I’d certainly hypothesize that increased body control depends on more precise neural maps in the somatosensory cortex.

Comments

  1. #1 Anibal
    May 27, 2008

    Impressive self-body neuromatrix (mirror neurons include)on this dancer!

  2. #2 aineko
    May 27, 2008

    Not to detract from your post or anything, but I’m getting sick of all the rage going on over this one particular dancer. Nothing that he does hasn’t been done before, and he is nowhere near the best at the pop n lock. Google “pop n lock”. Good, yes, otherworldly as many blogs are saying nowadays — no.

  3. #3 Samantha Vimes
    May 28, 2008

    There must also be differences in natural gift on this. I say this because I have had no proper dance training, but I can observe a dancer, and put on a good imitation of ballet, jazz, folk, and belly dancing (I mean good enough that the teachers/demonstrators ask how long I’ve been doing it for). I’ve danced across stairways and gone to at least intermediate bronze steps on some ballroom dances just because a guy who knew what he was doing was leading.

    The funny thing is, I’m a klutz at anything *but* dancing and foil fencing. Team sports often having me running the wrong direction or ending up on my ass.

  4. #4 shelby
    May 29, 2008

    I’d be very very interested in learning about the neuroscience behind dancing.
    I’ve been trained as a ballet dancer, and I can’t watch a ballet performance without examining every aspect of it.

  5. #5 theneurotic
    May 29, 2008

    If you like his dance style check out Salah on Youtube. He’s even better =).

  6. #6 geciktirici
    February 15, 2009

    Not to detract from your post or anything, but I’m getting sick of all the rage going on over this one particular dancer. Nothing that he does hasn’t been done before, and he is nowhere near the best at the pop n lock. Google “pop n lock”. Good, yes, otherworldly as many blogs are saying nowadays