Spatial updating and domain expertise: the case of dancers: Poster
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Dancers are a unique group of individuals who routinely engage in coordi nated highly skilled performances with others in the immediate environment. Previous research suggests that, compared to non-dancers, dancers have superior cognitive and motor skills, such as memory, posture control and balance. Although differences between dancers and non-dancers are reported for spatial skills as well, it is still unknown whether they are the result or the cause of dancing experience, with individuals having superior skills being more likely to take up dancing. To answer this question, we asked novices with no formal dance experience to attend dance lessons for a year. To investigate the effects of dance experience on spatial awareness, we used a spatial updating task in Virtual Reality at two different times: prior to the onset of dance lessons and 12 months later. We compared the dance novices’ performance to that of expert dancers and of a control group of non-dancers. Results indicated that experienced dancers performed more accurately in the spatial updating task, in both phases of data collection. There was also a non-significant improvement in spatial updating performance for the beginner dancers after a year of dance training, suggesting that dance lessons may be a potential means for enhancing spatial updating skills.