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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is based on the view that dancing can promote positive feelings and energy. Even watching others dancing—on stage, in a movie, or in a club—can improve feelings of wellbeing. With reference to relevant literature, it explores how the brain links action with perception, and how technical challenges are resolved in investigating brain activity in dance observers. Early studies using neuroimaging techniques are discussed, and comparisons are drawn with recent studies in neuroaesthetics. Findings from these studies suggest that brain scientists can learn from dancers and dance spectators about action–perception coupling and the integration of movement, cognition, and emotion. Conclusions are drawn regarding how dancing, and dance viewing, stimulates the parts of our brains that are involved in whole-body motor action as well as social, communicative, and creative tasks, and can elicit positive emotional reactions, contributing to wellbeing. Implications are discussed for choreography, dance training, education, and rehabilitation.

Keywords: human brain, dance expertise, action perception coupling, movement imagery, neuroaesthetics

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