Investigating the Functional and Structural Neural Correlates Associated With Dance Expertise
Dhami, Prabhjot Singh
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We investigated the structural and functional plasticity associated with dance expertise in a cross-sectional pilot study, comparing ballet dancers to controls. Using fMRI, the whole-brain functional activation maps of dancers and controls engaged in motor imagery of dance movements were compared. Controls were found to show greater activity in numerous regions relative to dancers, including in the superior frontal gyrus, hippocampus, and cerebellum. Anatomically, dancers exhibited greater cortical thickness in areas such as the inferior occipital gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, and superior temporal gyrus. We also found years of dance training to be correlated with cortical thickness in various regions, including positive correlations being reported in the fusiform gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus. These preliminary results suggest that dance expertise is associated with a functional reorganization that corresponds to the reduced activity reported in other motor expertise groups, as well various putative changes in structure.