Dance for neuroplasticity: A descriptive systematic review

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Jan:96:232-240. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2018.12.010. Epub 2018 Dec 10.


We conducted a systematic review of randomized clinical trials to investigate whether dance practice promotes neuroplasticity. We also determined how dancing is able to alter (1) brain volumes and structures (2) brain function, (3) psychomotor adjustment and (4) levels of neurotrophic factors. This systematic review formulated a research question based on PICO, according to the guidelines for systematic reviews and meta-analyzes (PRISMA), "What is the influence of dance practice on neuroplasticity in already mature brains?" We screened 1071 studies and from these eight studies were included in the review. Of the selected studies, all demonstrated positive structural and/or functional changes. Structural changes included increased hippocampal volume, gray matter volume in the left precentral and parahippocampal gyrus, and white matter integrity. Functional changes included alterations in cognitive function such as significant improvement in memory, attention, body balance, psychosocial parameters and altered peripheral neurotrophic factor. Based on the evidence, dance practice integrates brain areas to improve neuroplasticity.

Keywords: Brain function; Dance; Neuroplasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognitive Aging / physiology
  • Cognitive Aging / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / therapy
  • Dance Therapy
  • Dancing / physiology*
  • Dancing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic