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Dance and Brain

Mittwoch, 18.10.2023

Neues FWF-Projekt für die biologische Psychologie bewilligt.

Projektleiter: Prof. Dr. Andreas Fink
Finanzierung: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)
Laufzeit: 2023 - 2026


Wider research context / theoretical framework: Relevant studies have shown that the regular engagement in dancing modulates brain functions and various indicators of mental and physical health. Specifically, dancing has been found to be beneficial for people with mild cognitive impairment, or in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, or depression. Taken together these studies indicate that dancing is a powerful resource to maintain and improve brain functions and mental health.

Hypotheses/research questions /objectives: In this project we will learn more about the effects of dancing on both functional and structural characteristics of the brain, and on related facets of physical and mental health in young adults from the general population.

Approach/methods: The research design of this study involves three different time points of assessment and three experimental conditions, which are realized in a between-subjects design: 1) Training in contemporary dancing, 2) training in classical ballet, and 3) a third group of participants will act as waiting control group receiving the intervention after the last assessment session. All participants will be tested at three time points of assessment: Before the intervention (pre-test, t1), after half-time of the intervention (intermediate test, t2), and after completing the whole intervention (post-test). At each time point of assessment, magnetic resonance imaging, electrocardiography, motor and physical activity related variables, as well as psychological functions (affective and cognitive) are measured. 

Level of originality / innovation: Intervention studies in the field of brain imaging and physical activity, and especially also in the field of dancing and brain imaging are generally very low. To the very best of our knowledge, there are almost no studies including trainings in different dance domains (contemporary, classical ballet) in one and the same experimental design. Such an approach has the great potential to assess the specificity of the effects, which is among the most important challenges in this field (Karpati et al., 2015).

Primary researchers involved: This project is embedded in a larger interdisciplinary research field at the University of Graz (involving researchers from Neuroscience, Biological Psychology, Health Psychology, and Sports and Human Movement Sciences) focusing on the manifold positive effects of physical activity on different facets of physical and mental health. The core project team (Fink, Kannonier, Schwerdtfeger, Stornig, Tilp) represents a unique constellation of expertise at the interface of sports and human movement science, psychology, and neuroscience. 


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