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The Cognitive Benefits of Dance Lessons in Enhancing IQ

As we approach the end of the academic year, we often see schools all over the world investing teaching time into rehearsals for ‘End of year Concerts’. This can be a hot topic of debate in many playgrounds, as parents’ question is too much time being lost dancing over literacy and numerous teaching. So let’s explore the question, do dance lessons help enhance your child’s IQ? Let’s go for an academic exploration around this…

In recent years particularly, the relationship between dance education and cognitive development has gained much scholarly attention due to its potential implications for educational strategies. This article will explore the cognitive advantages of dance lessons in enhancing Intelligence Quotient (IQ), investigating underlying mechanisms and discussing implications for pedagogy.

Cognitive Processes Impacted by Dance Lessons:

First, let’s have a look at the cognitive processes that are impacted by the engagement of instructed dance…

  1. Motor Skills and Coordination: Dance involves intricate body movements and coordination with rhythm. The development of motor skills and coordination through dance lessons contributes to improved spatial awareness and fine motor control, skills integral to cognitive functions.

  2. Working Memory: Dance routines require memorization and execution of sequences. The engagement of working memory in remembering steps and coordinating movements augments this cognitive aspect, potentially influencing memory capacity in other domains.

  3. Cognitive Flexibility: Dance necessitates the ability to switch between various movements, styles, and rhythms promptly. This practice in cognitive flexibility—shifting attention and adapting to changing demands—transfers to other situations requiring adaptability.

  4. Emotional Expression and Regulation: Dance is an expressive art form involving emotions. Learning to convey emotions through movements enhances emotional intelligence and regulation, fostering better self-awareness and interpersonal skills.

Mechanisms Underlying IQ Enhancement:

Then how does it help enhance IQ…

  1. Neuroplasticity: Dance engages diverse brain areas involved in motor coordination, rhythm processing, and emotional expression. This multi-faceted engagement induces neuroplastic changes, promoting cognitive development.

  2. Cross-Domain Transfer: Skills cultivated through dance, such as working memory and cognitive flexibility, have applications beyond the dance studio. The cognitive benefits of dance can translate to improved problem-solving abilities and academic performance.

  3. Embodied Cognition: Dance embodies cognition, intertwining physical actions with cognitive processes. This interplay heightens sensory-motor integration and enhances cognitive functions linked to physical actions.

Research Evidence:

I did suggest in my introduction that we would take an academic dive into this, the following four studies a prominent in this area and worth taking a further look if you want to explore more in depth around this…

  1. Hanna-Pladdy & Mackay (2011): A study exploring the cognitive effects of dance found positive associations between dance training and cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and planning.

  2. Burzynska et al. (2017): Research demonstrated that older adults engaged in dance training exhibited improved white matter integrity in the brain, suggesting potential cognitive benefits.

  3. Kattenstroth et al. (2010): This study investigated dance interventions in the elderly and reported significant improvements in balance, cognitive flexibility, and attention.

  4. Neuroscientific Investigations: Neuroimaging studies have revealed enhanced neural connectivity in individuals with dance experience, particularly in brain regions associated with motor control, emotion processing, and executive functions.

Educational Implications:

Before we wrap up I will be bold and make some suggestions on the benefits of this in educational settings…

  1. Holistic Education: Integrating dance education into curricula can contribute to a holistic educational experience. Dance's cognitive advantages align with fostering well-rounded individuals capable of excelling in both artistic and academic pursuits.

  2. Physical Education: Dance can enrich physical education by not only promoting physical fitness but also enhancing cognitive functions. This interdisciplinary approach recognizes the interconnectedness of physical movement and cognitive development.

  3. Multidisciplinary Learning: Dance's impact on cognitive processes can bridge disciplines. Interactions between arts and sciences can lead to innovative pedagogical approaches, stimulating intellectual growth.

Challenges and Considerations:

But do not ignore…

  1. Diverse Impact: The cognitive benefits of dance might vary based on the style, intensity, and duration of training. More research is needed to delineate specific impacts across different dance forms.

  2. Individual Variability: Cognitive responses to dance could be influenced by individual factors like age, prior cognitive abilities, and personal interests.


To conclude, the cognitive advantages of dance lessons in enhancing IQ underscore the interconnectedness of artistic pursuits and cognitive development. The cognitive processes engaged in dance—ranging from motor coordination to emotional expression—contribute to multifaceted cognitive growth. Neuroplasticity, cross-domain transfer, and embodied cognition mechanisms underlie these benefits. While research demonstrates promising associations, further investigations are needed to establish causation and elucidate dance's specific impacts on cognitive functions. Incorporating dance education into academic curricula aligns with fostering comprehensive development and enriching educational landscapes. Ultimately, acknowledging dance's cognitive dimensions underscores its potential to contribute to intellectual enrichment, promoting interdisciplinary learning and cognitive advancement.


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