Dance on the Brain: Enhancing Intra and Inter-Brain Synchrony

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Dance has traditionally been viewed from a Eurocentric perspective as a mode of self-expression that involves the human body moving through space, performed for the purposes of art, and viewed by an audience. In this Hypothesis and Theory article, we synthesize findings from anthropology, sociology, psychology, dance pedagogy, and neuroscience to propose The Synchronicity Hypothesis of Dance, which states that humans dance to enhance both intra- and inter-brain synchrony. We outline a neurocentric definition of dance, which suggests that dance involves neurobehavioral processes in seven distinct areas including sensory, motor, cognitive, social, emotional, rhythmic, and creative. We explore The Synchronicity Hypothesis of Dance through several avenues. First, we examine evolutionary theories of dance, which suggest that dance drives interpersonal coordination. Second, we examine fundamental movement patterns, which emerge throughout development and are omnipresent across cultures of the world. Third, we examine how each of the seven neurobehaviors increases intraand inter-brain synchrony. Fourth, we examine the neuroimaging literature on dance to identify the brain regions most involved in and affected by dance. The findings presented here support our hypothesis that we engage in dance for the purpose of intrinsic reward, which as a result of dance-induced increases in neural synchrony, leads to enhanced interpersonal coordination. This hypothesis suggests that dance may be helpful to repattern oscillatory activity, leading to clinical improvements in autism spectrum disorder and other disorders with oscillatory activity impairments. Finally, we offer suggestions for future directions and discuss the idea that our consciousness can be redefined not just as an individual process but as a shared experience that we can positively influence by dancing together.

interpersonal coordination, improvisation, neurobehavior, shared intentionality, hyperscanning, neural coupling, neural synchrony, interpersonal brain synchronization
Basso JC, Satyal MK and Rugh R (2021) Dance on the Brain: Enhancing Intra- and Inter-Brain Synchrony. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 14:584312. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2020.584312