Neurodevelopmental perspectives on dance learning: Insights from early adolescence and young adulthood

Prog Brain Res. 2018:237:243-277. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2018.03.010. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


Studies investigating human motor learning and movement perception have shown that similar sensorimotor brain regions are engaged when we observe or perform action sequences. However, the way these networks enable translation of complex observed actions into motor commands-such as in the context of dance-remains poorly understood. Emerging evidence suggests that the ability to encode specific visuospatial and kinematic movement properties encountered via different routes of sensorimotor experience may be an integral component of action learning throughout development. Using a video game-based dance training paradigm, we demonstrate that patterns of voxel activity in visual and sensorimotor brain regions when perceiving movements following training are related to the sensory modalities through which these movements were encountered during whole-body dance training. Compared to adolescents, young adults in this study demonstrated more distinctive patterns of voxel activity in visual cortices in relation to different types of sensorimotor experience. This finding suggests that cortical maturity might influence the extent to which prior sensorimotor experiences shape brain activity when watching others in action, and potentially impact how we acquire new motor skills.

Keywords: Action; Adolescents; Arts; Dance; Development; Experience-dependent plasticity; Learning; MVPA; Perception; fMRI.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Dancing / physiology*
  • Female
  • Formative Feedback*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Movement
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen