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Title:Dancing and the aging brain: the effects of a 4-month ballroom dance intervention on the cognition of healthy older adults
Author(s):Alves, Heloisa
Director of Research:Kramer, Arthur F.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kramer, Arthur F.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Simons, Daniel J.; Hillman, Charles H.; Stine-Morrow, Elizabeth A.L.; Lehovec, Linda M.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:With the continuous increase of the elderly population in the world, the promotion of healthy aging and the development of interventions allowing an independent lifestyle in old age have become major public health issues. Particularly, dance has emerged as a useful tool in the fight against age-related decline, becoming a topic of increasing relevance for the cognitive sciences. Given the widely acknowledged beneficial effects of dancing, it is surprising that only very few studies have addressed its effects on cognition. The goal of the present study was to investigate the effects of a 4-month ballroom dance intervention on different cognitive abilities of healthy older adults, as well as on cardiorespiratory fitness, balance, and psychosocial variables. Sixty-five community-dwelling older adults of both genders participated in the study. Participants were randomly assigned to participate in a ballroom dance group, a walking group or a no-contact control group. To assess the effects of the dance intervention, participants completed the experimental protocol one week before beginning the 4-month intervention and one week after completion of the intervention. The experimental protocol consisted of a neuropsychological battery (with tests of attention, executive function, working memory, visuomotor coordination, spatial processing, speed of processing, sequential learning, and reasoning), a test of cardiorespiratory fitness, two tests used to evaluate balance control, and scales assessing anxiety, psychological well-being, perceived stress, and sleep quality. Results indicated that the dance and walking groups improved in terms of aerobic fitness, but differences in other measures were observed exclusively in the dance group. Specifically, after the 4-month intervention, the dance group improved in measures of reasoning, visual processing, working memory, as well as on all the psychosocial variables and on the sleep pattern index. No significant differences were observed in the balance tests. The results of the present study suggest that dance can be a useful activity not only in the fight against physical and cognitive age-related decline, but also in the fight against stress and anxiety, which are major obstacles to the general physical, mental, and social well being of individuals in the world today.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Heloisa Alves
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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