The Correlation of Dance Experience and Spatial Memory Abilities



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Research has shown that practice and experience are determining factors in the development of expertise (Chase & Simon, 1973). It appears that years of practice correlate with memory ability in a given domain. Experts excel in domain-specific memory because they store and retain a large number of “chunks,” or groups or patterns of information in long-term memory (Ferrari, Didierjean, & Marmeche, 2008). This improved memory ability seems to generalize for experts in many different domains, such as chess (Ferrari, Didierjean, & Marmeche, 2008) and perhaps dance. This study investigated the spatial and verbal memory of dancers and non-dancers using three memory tasks: the Corsi block-tapping task (spatial memory), a word span task (verbal memory), and a full-body version of the Corsi block-tapping task (dance-specific spatial memory). Participants included both dancers and non-dancers from the age group of 14 years and older. The researcher predicted that performance on both spatial memory tasks would be positively correlated with years of dance experience, such that the more experience an individual has in dance, the better the performance on the spatial memory tasks. The researcher also predicted that there would be no differences in verbal memory across the groups. The latter prediction was based on the assumption that dancers and non-dancers have had comparable verbal experience. Thus, this experiment examines the possible memory enhancement properties of dance.