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date: 24 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Emotional engagement and aesthetic appreciation can be prime motivations for engaging with dance. Dance can therefore offer a valuable tool for the neuroscientific study of emotion processing. This idea underpinned the project Watching Dance, which investigated the neural correlates of subjective emotional response. Participants watched a four-minute video of contemporary dance involving two dancers and three music segments. Subjective emotional response was measured by continuous rating with a slider on an analogue scale, and structured interviews prompted participants to reflect on their ratings. The neural correlates were measured using functional brain imaging complemented by a brain interference study to investigate a causal link between regional brain activity and the subjective emotional response. A pattern of emotional rating emerged that was strongly influenced by both music and movement, as confirmed by the qualitative investigation. A direct link was established between posterior parietal cortex activity and emotional reaction to dance.

Keywords: human brain, emotion, neuroaesthetic, qualitative research, Watching Dance

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