Motor control in action: using dance to explore the intricate choreography between action perception and production in the human brain

Cross, E. S. and Elizarova, A. (2014) Motor control in action: using dance to explore the intricate choreography between action perception and production in the human brain. In: Levin, M. F. (ed.) Progress in Motor Control: Skill Learning, Performance, Health, and Injury. Series: Advances in experimental medicine and biology (826). Springer: New York, pp. 147-160. ISBN 9781493913374 (doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-1338-1_10)

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Abstract

When experienced dancers watch other dancers perform, they perceive the movement in a quantifiably different manner than nondancers. Is this simply a matter of dancers paying more attention and having greater interest in watching dance, or do quantifiable differences exist within the brains of skilled dancers compared to nondancers related to years of physical practice? Previous neurophysiological research offers insight into this question through the discovery of specialized cells in the monkey brain that are active in a similar manner when monkeys perform or observe the same movement. This discovery of so-called mirror neurons established the idea of a close correspondence between action perception and production. Since this discovery, myriad studies have focused on the relationship between action production and perception in the human brain by studying the execution and observation of simple finger or hand movements. Work with dancers, however, extends such investigations to the full-body domain and helps to uncover how individual experience shapes the links between watching and performing actions. Much of this research uses neuroscientific methods to advance understanding of not only the cerebral phenomena associated with complex action learning and observation but also the neural underpinnings of aesthetic appreciation when watching dance. The results of this work are starting to inform and mutually benefit both the scientific and artistic communities.

Item Type:Book Sections
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cross, Professor Emily
Authors: Cross, E. S., and Elizarova, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0065-2598
ISBN:9781493913374

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