Tags: Autism | Music | dance | therapy | brain

Music, Dance Boost Brain Power

Music, Dance Boost Brain Power

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By    |   Friday, 07 October 2016 03:31 PM

Learning either music or dance has the power to strengthen the brain, but in different ways – and to a magnitude even stronger than previously thought, a new study finds.

Some studies have already shown how music training at a young age can improve various cognitive skills, but dance has yet to be used in a similar way, so researchers at Concordia University in Montreal set out to learn more.

They used high-tech imaging techniques to compare the effects of dance and music training on the white matter structure in the brain in experts in these two disciplines.

The researchers performed brain scans on two groups of people – one group that had studied music and dance, and a control group that had training in neither.

They found that the brains of dancers and musicians differed in many white matter regions, including sensory and motor pathways, both at the primary and higher cognitive levels of processing.

Dancers had broader connections of fiber bundles linking the sensory and motor brain regions themselves, as well as broader fiber bundles connecting the brain's two hemispheres -- in the regions that process sensory and motor information. In contrast, musicians had stronger and more coherent fiber bundles in the latter pathways, the researchers say.

This suggests that dance and music training affect the brain in different ways -- increasing global connectivity and crossing of fibers in dance training, and strengthening specific pathways in music training, the study shows.

Interestingly, dancers and musicians differed more between each other than in comparison to the group of control subjects who had no extensive formal training in either field.

Dance therapy is already used to treat Parkinson’s disease patients, while music has been found to help with autism, notes Dr. Virginia Penhune, senior author of the study, which appears in NeuroImage.

"This work has major potential for being applied to the fields of education and rehabilitation," says Dr. Penhune, adding, "Understanding how dance and music training differently affect brain networks will allow us to selectively use them to enhance their functioning or compensate for difficulties and diseases that involve those specific brain networks."


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A new study finds that either music and dance strengthen the brain but in different ways.
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Friday, 07 October 2016 03:31 PM
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