Dance and Brain Health Part 3: The Limbic System
We will conclude our three part series on brain health with a discussion of the limbic system and the role that dance plays in our emotional health. The limbic system is a collection of brain structures that regulate emotion, motivation, memory, and social behavior.
Recent research shows significant stress relief benefits of exercise in general due to the brain’s release of endorphins. We believe that dance excels in the benefits to the limbic system for several reasons. The act of dance is a deeply primal form of release that has been practiced by nearly every human culture on earth. There is something uniquely satisfying about the meeting of all three centers of the brain (movement, logic, and emotion) working together to accomplish something beautiful.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have determined that the brains of dancers develop in a uniquely harmonious way. According to their research “dancers displayed stronger synchronization [than non-dancers] at the low theta frequency. Theta synchronization is linked to emotion and memory processing which are central to all interpersonal interaction and self-understanding”.
Dance is an activity in which one can readily achieve a “flow state”, a well-researched phenomenon in which the person becomes fully immersed in an activity. The achievement of flow state has been associated with an increase in general contentment and productivity.
The fact that dance is incredibly fun and rewarding in its own right may seem to cast the brain health benefits as “icing on the cake”. But we at the Dance Centre have a higher goal for your children than mere fun and exercise. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about your child’s healthy and growing brain!