Ballet Brain: Dancers' Brains Might Be Different Than The Average Brain

August 27, 2017

Tutus, pointe shoes, and the ability to make a bun in seven seconds or less aren’t the only things that separate ballerinas from the average human. Turns out, the brains of ballet dancers may actually be different than the brains of non-ballet dancers.

Dr. Aharon Shulimson, a psychologist in Utah, has been using Quantitative Electroencephalography (QEEG, a brain imaging technique) to study the brainwaves of 26 dancers at Ballet West. He then compared their data to the data of the “statistical norm.” Thanks to this study, Dr. Shulimson has made some compelling steps toward discovering what goes on in a ballet dancer’s head.

One of the most interesting findings in Dr. Shulimson’s study revealed that two-thirds of the dancers he observed had a highly overactive brain. These results are significant because in a “normal” population you’d only find about 4% of people with that kind of brain activity.”These dancers probably have a hard time sleeping because their brain doesn’t want to turn off,” Dr. Shulimson told Ballet West.

Though his findings have been presented at the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Conference, the study is too small to reveal any definitive results. Dr. Shulimson plans to broaden his study to include other ballet companies to gain greater insight into the minds of ballet dancers.