Experienced ballet spectators with no physical expertise in ballet showed enhanced muscle-specific motor responses when watching live ballet, according to a Mar. 21 report in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
This result when watching such a formal dance as ballet is striking in comparison to the similar enhanced response the authors found in empathic observers when watching an Indian dance rich in hand gestures. This is important because it shows that motor expertise in the movements observed is not required to have enhanced neural motor responses when just watching dance performances.
The authors suggest that spectators covertly simulate the dance movements for styles that they regularly watch, causing the increased corticospinal excitability.
The researchers, led by Corinne Jola of the University of Surrey, as part of the Watching Dance Project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, found that the enhanced neural response required a precise match between the type of dance a viewer knew well and the type currently being viewed. Specifically, frequent ballet spectators responded most strongly to ballet, and Indian spectators to Indian dance specific movements, if they scored high on cognitive empathy (tendency to fantasize). None of the study participants had received any dance training, so it was significant that their neural motor responses were modulated just by their viewing experience.
Citation: Jola C, Abedian-Amiri A, Kuppuswamy A, Pollick FE, Grosbras M-H (2012) Motor Simulation without Motor Expertise: Enhanced Corticospinal Excitability in Visually Experienced Dance Spectators. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33343. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033343
Contact: Corinne Jola, C.Jola@surrey.ac.uk, 01483 68 2900
Financial Disclosure: Watching Dance Arts and Humanities Research Council (www.ahrc.ac.uk) funding project ID is AH/F01229/1. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interest Statement: Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
PLEASE LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT (URL goes live after the embargo ends):
Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLoS ONE. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.
About PLoS ONE
PLoS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLoS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.
All works published in PLoS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLoS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.