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Mental Choreography

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This story is a supplement to the feature "So You Think You Can Dance?: PET Scans Reveal Your Brain's Inner Choreography" which was printed in the July 2008 issue of Scientific American.

The authors found that the following brain regions contribute to dance in ways that go beyond simply carrying out motion.

Anterior vermis
This part of the cerebellum receives input from the spinal cord and appears to act something like a metronome, helping to synchronize dance steps to music.

 

 

Medial geniculate nucleus
A stop along the lower auditory pathway, this area appears to help set the brain’s metronome and underlies our tendency to unconsciously tap our toes or sway to music. We react unconsciously because the region connects to the cerebellum, communicating information about rhythm without “speaking” to higher auditory areas in the cortex.

Precuneus
Containing a sensory-based map of one’s own body, the precuneus helps
to plot a dancer’s path from a body-centered, or egocentric, perspective.

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