D’Augelli and his partner, Frédéric, had designed a series of experiments that showed how dancing could enhance the memory and creativity of people. The original experiments consisted of three separate sessions of 24-hour sessions to see whether dance could lead to new skills. One of the sessions saw the patients learn how to tap their foot or twist their ankle while a computer was hooked up to a high-speed video recorder. This was a simple task, but there were no instructions for the participants to remember the task or to complete it accurately.
After a week, the researchers had observed a dramatic improvement in their patients’ memory. For example, as soon as the patients learned to tap their feet (an exercise known as ‘thumb tapping’), the computer showed them a picture of a ball that had been marked with words similar to the words that had already been marked for them. It was immediately obvious that the patients could better remember their own actions while dancing, as compared with reading the same text word for word after their first session of instruction.
Later in a different setting, in the lab, the researchers had shown the volunteers two videos of different characters: Cinderella and Ariel. These videos were not shown in the presence of the computer, as would be expected of an actual game. The patients were given the opportunity to guess what characters the characters might be, while the computer showed them clips of both films. The computer showed the videos several times, over a period of several hours. The researchers saw dramatic improvements in the patients’ ability to recognise images of each of the characters.
“When these patients have been allowed more time to watch their favourite films, their performance goes up”
It might also seem surprising to note that these researchers were using music to improve their patients’ brain function, but a deeper look reveals a more interesting and profound consequence of these studies. One of the findings from the original experiments showed that, in certain conditions, brain function would improve. For example, in the experiments in which subjects were shown a series of images that had been previously annotated by the researchers, when the participants were required to recognize certain words after viewing the images they were shown, they performed significantly better. These patients had, according to D’Augelli, “a greater sensitivity to associations in the auditory environment”, which can lead to more efficient memory. Another group of the patients also became better at recognizing their surroundings.
A recent study by D’Augelli in the United States had shown
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