With Valentine's Day just a day away, some lovers may be in search of activities to keep the flame alive. A new Chinese study suggests ballroom dancing.
Dancing as a couple can help partners develop empathy for each other.
The authors of this study came to this conclusion after conducting an experiment with 43 professional ballroom dancers and 40 individuals with no previous dance experience. The researchers took several steps to ensure that the groups of participants and controls were well-matched including their age bracket.
The researchers then used brain imaging and self-reporting answers via questionnaires completed by the study participants, to assess their capacity for empathy. They found that ballroom dancers showed higher scores of "empathic concern" than non-practitioners.
Furthermore, the academics noted that ballroom dancers who'd had the same partner for years were more empathetic towards their partner than those who knew their partner less well.
Surprisingly, the ability to show empathy was "negatively correlated with the number of dance partners for ballroom dancers."
"These observations suggested that ballroom dancers are more likely to experience feelings of concern for others due to long-term training with fixed dance partners," the study, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, reads.
Interestingly, these observations have neuronal implications. Ballroom dancers show greater volumes of grey matter in the so-called subgenual area of the anterior cingulate cortex, which plays a crucial role in emotion regulation.
In addition, there was greater connectivity between this part of the brain and the occipital gyrus (a region considered to be the center of vision). This, according to the scientists, provides "solid evidence" of a link between regular ballroom dance training and empathy.
These findings should be treated cautiously, however, as this study, above all, shows correlations but does not prove a causal link between ballroom dancing and the ability to empathize.
In any case, dancing can be a highly beneficial activity for both body and mind so taking ballroom dancing classes with your significant other can have positive effects regardless. - AFP