Studying individuals with specialized training, such as dancers and musicians, provides an opportunity to investigate how intensive practice of sensorimotor skills affects behavioural performance across various domains. While several studies have found that musicians have improved motor, perceptual and sensorimotor integration skills compared to untrained controls, fewer studies have examined the effect of dance training on such skills. Moreover, no study has specifically compared the effects of dance versus music training on perceptual or sensorimotor performance. To this aim, in the present study, expert dancers, expert musicians and untrained controls were tested on a range of perceptual and sensorimotor tasks designed to discriminate performance profiles across groups. Dancers performed better than musicians and controls on a dance imitation task (involving whole-body movement), but musicians performed better than dancers and controls on a musical melody discrimination task as well as on a rhythm synchronization task (involving finger tapping). These results indicate that long-term intensive dance and music training are associated with distinct enhancements in sensorimotor skills. This novel work advances knowledge of the effects of long-term dance versus music training and has potential applications in therapies for motor disorders.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Aagten-Murphy D, Cappagli G, Burr D (2014) Musical training generalises across modalities and reveals efficient and adaptive mechanisms for reproducing temporal intervals. Acta Psychol 147:25–33. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.10.007
Bailey JA, Penhune VB (2010) Rhythm synchronization performance and auditory working memory in early- and late-trained musicians. Exp Brain Res 204:91–101. doi:10.1007/s00221-010-2299-y
Bailey JA, Zatorre RJ, Penhune VB (2014) Early musical training is linked to gray matter structure in the ventral premotor cortex and auditory–motor rhythm synchronization performance. J Cogn Neurosci 26:755–767. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00527
Bangert M, Peschel T, Schlaug G, Rotte M, Drescher D, Hinrichs H, Heinze HJ, Altenmüller E (2006) Shared networks for auditory and motor processing in professional pianists: evidence from fMRI conjunction. NeuroImage 30:917–926
Bläsing B, Calvo-Merino B, Cross ES, Jola C, Honisch J, Stevens CJ (2012) Neurocognitive control in dance perception and performance. Acta Psychol 139:300–308. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2011.12.005
Calvo-Merino B, Ehrenberg S, Leung D, Haggard P (2010) Experts see it all: configural effects in action observation. Psychol Res 74:400–406. doi:10.1007/s00426-009-0262-y
Caspers S, Zilles K, Laird AR, Eickhoff SB (2010) ALE meta-analysis of action observation and imitation in the human brain. NeuroImage 50:1148–1167. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.12.112
Chen JL, Penhune VB, Zatorre RJ (2008) Moving on time: brain network for auditory-motor synchronization is modulated by rhythm complexity and musical training. J Cogn Neurosci 20:226–239. doi:10.1162/jocn.2008.20018
Clark RA, Pua YH, Fortin K, Ritchie C, Webster KE, Denehy L, Bryant AL (2012) Validity of the Microsoft Kinect for assessment of postural control. Gait Posture 36:372–377. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2012.03.033
Clark RA, Bower KJ, Mentiplay BF, Paterson K, Pua YH (2013) Concurrent validity of the Microsoft Kinect for assessment of spatiotemporal gait variables. J Biomech 46:2722–2725. doi:10.1016/j.jbiomech.2013.08.011
Coffey EBJ, Herholz SC, Scala S, Zatorre RJ (2011) Montreal Music History Questionnaire: a tool for the assessment of music-related experience in music cognition research. In: Conference proceedings from The Neurosciences and Music IV, Edinburgh, UK
Cross ES, Hamilton AF, Grafton ST (2006) Building a motor simulation de novo: observation of dance by dancers. NeuroImage 31:1257–1267. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.01.033
Cross ES, Kraemer DJ, Hamilton AF, Kelley WM, Grafton ST (2009) Sensitivity of the action observation network to physical and observational learning. Cereb Cortex 19:315–326. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhn083
Crotts D, Thompson B, Nahom M, Ryan S, Newton RA (1996) Balance abilities of professional dancers on select balance tests. J Orthop Sport Phys 23:12–17. doi:10.2519/jospt.1922.214.171.124
Drost UC, Rieger M, Brass M, Gunter TC, Prinz W (2005) Action-effect coupling in pianists. Psychol Res 69:233–241. doi:10.1007/s00426-004-0175-8
Duncan RP, Earhart GM (2012) Randomized controlled trial of community-based dancing to modify disease progression in Parkinson disease. Neurorehab Neural Repair 26:132–143. doi:10.1177/1545968311421614
Fernandes LF, de Barros RM (2012) Grip pattern and finger coordination differences between pianists and non-pianists. J Electromyogr Kines 22:412–418. doi:10.1016/j.jelekin.2012.02.007
Foster NE, Zatorre RJ (2010) A role for the intraparietal sulcus in transforming musical pitch information. Cereb Cortex 20:1350–1359. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhp199
Fujioka T, Trainor LJ, Ross B, Kakigi R, Pantev C (2004) Musical training enhances automatic encoding of melodic contour and interval structure. J Cogn Neurosci 16:1010–1021. doi:10.1162/0898929041502706
Giacosa C, Karpati FJ, Foster NEV, Penhune VB, Hyde KL (2014) White matter differences in dancers and musicians. In: Conference proceedings from The Neurosciences and Music V, Dijon, France
Grahn JA, Brett M (2007) Rhythm and beat perception in motor areas of the brain. J Cogn Neurosci 19:893–906. doi:10.1162/jocn.2007.19.5.893
Herholz SC, Zatorre RJ (2012) Musical training as a framework for brain plasticity: behavior, function, and structure. Neuron 76:486–502. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.10.011
Iacoboni M (2005) Neural mechanisms of imitation. Curr Opin Neurobiol 15:632–637
IBM Corporation (2012) Restricted maximum likelihood method. SPSS Statistics 21.0.0. http://www-01.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/#!/SSLVMB_21.0.0/com.ibm.spss.statistics.cs/varcomp_reml_method.htm. Accessed 10 Aug 2015
Inui N, Ichihara T (2001) Comparison of the relation between timing and force control during finger-tapping sequences by pianists and non pianists. Mot Control 5:385–398
Karpati FJ, Giacosa C, Foster NE, Penhune VB, Hyde KL (2014) The specificity of dance versus music training on gray matter structure. In: Conference proceedings from the 20th annual meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, Hamburg, Germany
Karpati FJ, Giacosa C, Foster NE, Penhune VB, Hyde KL (2015) Dance and the brain: a review. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1337:140–146. doi:10.1111/nyas.12632
Keller PE, Koch I (2008) Action planning in sequential skills: relations to music performance. Q J Exp Psychol 61:275–291. doi:10.1080/17470210601160864
Mandelbaum R, Lo AC (2014) Examining dance as an intervention in Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review. Am J Dance Ther 36:160–175. doi:10.1007/s10465-014-9181-6
Miura A, Kudo K, Ohtsuki T, Kanehisa H (2011) Coordination modes in sensorimotor synchronization of whole-body movement: a study of street dancers and non-dancers. Hum Mov Sci 30:1260–1271. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2010.08.006
Miura A, Kudo K, Nakazawa K (2013) Action-perception coordination dynamics of whole-body rhythmic movement in stance: a comparison study of street dancers and non-dancers. Neurosci Lett 544:157–162. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2013.04.005
Ono Y et al (2014) Frontotemporal oxyhemoglobin dynamics predict performance accuracy of dance simulation gameplay: temporal characteristics of top-down and bottom-up cortical activities. NeuroImage 85:461–470. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.071
Pau S, Jahn G, Sakreida K, Domin M, Lotze M (2013) Encoding and recall of finger sequences in experienced pianists compared with musicale naïve controls: a combined behavioral and functional imaging study. NeuroImage 64:379–387
Penhune VB (2011) Sensitive periods in human development: evidence from musical training. Cortex 47:1126–1137. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2011.05.010
Proverbio AM, Calbi M, Manfredi M, Zani A (2014) Audio-visuomotor processing in the musician’s brain: an ERP study on professional violinists and clarinetists. Sci Rep 4:5866
Rammsayer T, Altenmuller E (2006) Temporal information processing in musicians and nonmusicians. Music Percept 24:37–48. doi:10.1525/mp.2006.24.1.37
Rein S, Fabian T, Zwipp H, Rammelt S, Weindel S (2011) Postural control and functional ankle stability in professional and amateur dancers. Clin Neurophysiol 122:1602–1610. doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2011.01.004
Repp BH (2010) Sensorimotor synchronization and perception of timing: effects of music training and task experience. Hum Mov Sci 29:200–213. doi:10.1016/j.humov.2009.08.002
Rizzolatti G, Craighero L (2004) The mirror-neuron system. Annu Rev Neurosci 27:169–192
Schneider S, Schonle PW, Altenmuller E, Munte TF (2007) Using musical instruments to improve motor skill recovery following a stroke. J Neurol 254:1339–1346. doi:10.1007/s00415-006-0523-2
Sofianidis G, Hatzitaki V, McKinley P (2012) Effects of expertise and auditory guidance on traditional dance performance. J Dance Med Sci 16:57–64
Spilka MJ, Steele CJ, Penhune VB (2010) Gesture imitation in musicians and non-musicians. Exp Brain Res 204:549–558. doi:10.1007/s00221-010-2322-3
Stevens C, Winskel H, Howell C, Vidal LM, Latimer C, Milne-Home J (2010) Perceiving dance: schematic expectations guide experts’ scanning of a contemporary dance film. J Dance Med Sci 14:19–25
Tachibana A, Noah JA, Bronner S, Ono Y, Onozuka M (2011) Parietal and temporal activity during a multimodal dance video game: an fNIRS study. Neurosci Lett 503:125–130. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2011.08.023
Taylor JE, Witt JK (2015) Listening to music primes space: pianists, but not novices, simulate heard actions. Psychol Res 79:175–182. doi:10.1007/s00426-014-0544-x
Thullier F, Moufti H (2004) Multi-joint coordination in ballet dancers. Neurosci Lett 369:80–84. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2004.08.011
Verheul MH, Geuze RH (2004) Bimanual coordination and musical experience: the role of intrinsic dynamics and behavioral information. Mot Control 8:270–291
Washburn A, DeMarco M, de Vries S, Ariyabuddhiphongs K, Schmidt RC, Richardson MJ, Riley MA (2014) Dancers entrain more effectively than non-dancers to another actor’s movements. Front Hum Neurosci 8:800. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00800
Wechsler D (1997) Wechsler adult intelligence scale, 3rd edn. Harcourt Assessment, San Antonio
We would like to thank our participants for their time, as well as Alessia Di Cesare, Veronica Yuk, and Dana Boebinger for their assistance in the data collection process. This work was funded by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) to Dr. Krista Hyde.
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.
About this article
Cite this article
Karpati, F.J., Giacosa, C., Foster, N.E.V. et al. Sensorimotor integration is enhanced in dancers and musicians. Exp Brain Res 234, 893–903 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-015-4524-1
- Sensorimotor integration
- Dance video game