Huffpost Arts

Scientists Map The Brain During Dancing

Posted: Updated:

We can guess what our brains go through while we're dancing; we experience euphoria, elation, happiness, and probably nervousness for those with two left feet. While we're just conjecturing, scientists at Bangor University are discovering precisely what goes through the brain while we're shaking our groove thing. Dr. Emily Cross enlisted the help of contemporary dancer Riley Watts to examine how the brain responds to movement, both choreographed and improvised.

Watts told BBC, "I'm thrilled that my skills as a dancer can be put to use in a scientific context to further everyone's understanding of what is actually going on in our brains."

The contemporary dancer boogied in a variety of settings, including a 3D motion capture studio, and then had an MRI exam while he watched videos of himself. His brain's reactions were then recorded, giving us a window into the inner workings of our mind. Cross' focus is on the relatively new field of neuroaesthetics -- a field where the brain's reactions to artistic endeavors is studied -- creating the perfect opportunity to collaborate with Watts, who was thrilled to participate.

Cross sees even larger implications further down the road, saying,

"The material Riley and I develop will lead to experiments that advance our understanding of how the brain learns complex movement. In particular, our results will inform how therapists can best teach new motor skills to healthy people as well as those suffering from neurological or physical injury."