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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 9837321, 10 pages
Research Article

Senior Dance Experience, Cognitive Performance, and Brain Volume in Older Women

1Jacobs Center on Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development, Jacobs University, 28759 Bremen, Germany
2Institute of Human Movement Science and Health, Technische Universität Chemnitz, 09126 Chemnitz, Germany
3Department of Psychology & Methods, Jacobs University, 28759 Bremen, Germany
4Center for Cognitive Science, Bremen University, 28359 Bremen, Germany

Received 29 January 2016; Accepted 20 July 2016

Academic Editor: Stuart C. Mangel

Copyright © 2016 Claudia Niemann et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Physical activity is positively related to cognitive functioning and brain volume in older adults. Interestingly, different types of physical activity vary in their effects on cognition and on the brain. For example, dancing has become an interesting topic in aging research, as it is a popular leisure activity among older adults, involving cardiovascular and motor fitness dimensions that can be positively related to cognition. However, studies on brain structure are missing. In this study, we tested the association of long-term senior dance experience with cognitive performance and gray matter brain volume in older women aged 65 to 82 years. We compared nonprofessional senior dancers () with nonsedentary control group participants without any dancing experience (), who were similar in age, education, IQ score, lifestyle and health factors, and fitness level. Differences neither in the four tested cognitive domains (executive control, perceptual speed, episodic memory, and long-term memory) nor in brain volume (VBM whole-brain analysis, region-of-interest analysis of the hippocampus) were observed. Results indicate that moderate dancing activity (1-2 times per week, on average) has no additional effects on gray matter volume and cognitive functioning when a certain lifestyle or physical activity and fitness level are reached.