In the final year of my PhD I was awarded a Mitacs Globalink Award to travel to Berlin, Germany, where I worked with a lab specializing in the collection of mobile brain/body imaging data.
My research broadly investigates ways that dance can support health and well-being throughout the lifespan, and involves the development of neurobiological models for dance and applications for therapeutic dance programs. While neuroscience of dance and dance in therapeutic contexts are growing areas of research, methodological restrictions associated with recording data while people are moving impose severe limitations on studies. Interdisciplinary research methods and theoretical frameworks that blend sciences and humanities are highly suited to improving our understanding of how and why dance may be useful in therapeutic contexts. Neuroscientific dance research to this point often involves pre/post measures, visualisation, watching videos, or anatomical examinations of experts; my project addressed these elements while adding dimensions of moving, learning, and performing a novel dance.
The project assessed the impact of motor learning while subjects learned a specifically designed 30-second choreography. Trials include watching videos, watching live performances of the choreography, moving with the teacher, imagining performing from a first-person perspective, and finally, performing in space. Sessions were recorded at the Berlin Mobile Brain/Body Imaging Lab (BeMoBIL), a 150 m2 lab space, where we could capture EEG data and continuous motion of the 16 participants.
The collected data explores brain dynamics synced with video and motion capture, along with participant feedback, providing a wealth of information. Preliminary results suggest that participants employed different learning strategies based on their previous experience; further analysis will require substantially more time. This article describes our original research design and outlines plans for analysis over the coming months and year(s).