Center for the Arts and Humanities: Student Fellows Program


Emma Rutter

Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



This article explores the connection between dance education, emotional affect, memory recall and executive function with primary research conducted in California and Colorado. Past studies show that dance interventions improve working memory, increase hippocampal volume, and induce expressive brain plasticity in older adults aged 55+ after beginning dance classes (Teixeira-Machado et al., 2019, Rehfeld et al., 2017, Rehfeld et al., 2018). Other findings show that aerobic exercise induces growth factors that increase neural plasticity resulting in the preservation of cognitive functions. There is limited research between dance and cognitive function in people ages 14-24 years. Furthermore, not all styles of dance maintain aerobic conditions as discussed in previous research on exercise interventions for memory. This study was formulated to explore this literature gap. After surveying 68 participants the result of this study concludes that an hour of a dance class increases perceived positive emotions and decreases perceived negative emotions. There was not significant correlation between working memory and one hour of a dance class. Further research is necessary to understand the potential for dance as an intervention for memory recall.