Archive for the 'Movement' Category

Dance and Aging: A Critical Review of Findings in Neuroscience

old couple dancing.jpg

This article reviews research that measures the benefits of a variety of dance forms with older adults, for cognitive and sensorimotor performance (such as balance and gait), social and emotional wellbeing, and underlying neurobiological factors.

 Besides reporting the measurement methods for each study, this article draws three important conclusions from the studies as a whole:

1.  Sensorimotor performance (such as balance, gait, speed, and functional exercise-based capacity) seems to improve with long-term and not short-term (e.g., 3–5 days per week for 2 weeks) participation.

2. All forms of dance (cultural, social, modern, jazz, mixed, ballroom, dance/movement therapy) led to significant improvements in static, dynamic or functional balance.

3.  Many positive benefits were found in cognitive and sensorimotor performance.

Click here to read the article.
Kshtriya S, Barstaple R, Rabinovich DB, and DeSouza JFX.  Dance and Aging: A Critical Review of Findings in Neuroscience.  American Journal of Dance Therapy. (2015) 37:81–112 DOI 10.1007/s10465-015-9196-7.

New Online Creative Caregiving Guide

NCCA Creative Caregiving Guide

Imagine a world where every caregiving act for adults with alzheimer’s disease and related cognitive disorders contributes to quality days for both the caregiver and their care partner.

The public is invited to utilize FREE video clips and curriculum materials developed by the National Center for Creative Aging to facilitate cognition, self-expression, movement and social connection in adults living with Alzheimer’s disease and related cognitive disorders.*

The guide is constantly expanding with lessons for additional languages and cultures.

* Note from Ping Ho, MA, MPH – Founding Director of UCLArts and Healing:

The lessons are applicable to other populations such as special needs and young children.

Movement Facilitates Creative Thinking

Sample drawings from Saggar et al study on creative thinking and cerebellum activity

A new Pictionary-based Stanford study by Saggar et al has shown that creative thinking is facilitated by activity in the cerebellum (the movement coordination part of the brain) and hampered by activity in the prefrontal cortex (the executive function part of the brain associated with planning, organization and management).

Subjects were given 30 seconds to depict each of several action words by drawing pictures of them while inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine to monitor brain activity.  They were also asked to draw zigzag lines to observe differences in fine motor activity without a creative component.

When words were difficult to draw, there was more activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with attention and evaluation.  Independently-rated creativity scores were higher with low activity in the prefrontal cortex and high activity in the cerebellum.

Saggar stated, “The more you think about it, the more you mess it up.”

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

Stanford professor Michel Serres hikes the Dish on a regular basis.

This study may shed neurobiological light on an interesting finding from another Stanford study by Oppezzo and Schwartz published in April 2014 that walking compared to sitting more than doubles creative inspiration, whether out in nature or indoors facing a wall on a treadmill.  They compared the walking conditions to sitting indoors facing a wall or sitting outdoors while being pushed in a wheelchair.  They also compared various combinations and sequences of walking and sitting.

While walking or sitting, 176 subjects were given four minutes to solve “divergent thinking” problems—taking an object and coming up with innovative yet appropriate alternative uses for it.  Creative brainstorming was 60% greater when walking.

In another test, they were asked to come up with meaningful analogies to phrases such as “a robbed safe”.  100% of subjects in the walking condition were able to come up with appropriate analogies, whereas only 50% of the subjects in the sitting condition were able to do so.

The researchers wonder whether other forms of mild physical activity that does not necessitate focused concentration for execution (such as loosely-structured creative movement), would lead to the same benefits.  They also suggested that movement may facilitate creative thought processes through improved mood states and that movement breaks throughout the day may be a good idea.


Stanford news media summaries of the two studies for the lay public can be found through the links below:
Saggar et al study on creative thinking and cerebellum activity.
Oppezzo and Schwatrz study on creative thinking and walking.

How Body Language and Thought Affect Our Social Power


In less than 100 milliseconds, people decide whether or not they should pay attention to you.

Deborah Gruenfeld, social psychologist and Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, explains in her video on “Acting with Power” that the vast majority of social meaning comes from nonverbal behavior (body language and how things are said) that is typically outside of our realm of awareness.  Actual words only account for 7% of social cues.  

When verbal and nonverbal messages are misaligned, guess what people will remember?  What your body told us.

Group members that have higher social status use their bodies in more expansive ways.

In her video, Gruenfeld offers an experiment to demonstrate how our bodies also affect the way we feel about ourselves.

These exercises underscore the importance of aligning body and mind to support success.  Mind affects body and body affects mind.

Try out the experiential exercises that Deborah Gruenfeld offers in her video presentation.

UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference 2014: Creative Arts Therapies Panel

Click here to view the creative arts therapies panel.

Integrative Medicine in the Community through the Creative Arts Therapies:  Experiential Panel Presentations on Creative Arts Therapies at the UCLA Integrative Medicine Conference – March 1, 2014

The creative arts therapies offer accessible, nonverbal and universal tools for facilitating emotional and physical health through a focus on the process of expression, rather than performance or product. The creative arts therapies can offer a humanizing complement to increasingly technological medical care, that can enhance the environment of medicine and address the increasing societal health care burden from chronic diseases rooted in emotions and behavior.

A panel of clinician/scholars from four creative arts therapy disciplines (art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, and music therapy) demonstrate how and why the creative arts therapies are so effective as an integrative medicine discipline.  This remarkable presentation features the layering on of each art form in an experiential presentation.

The 2014 Conference for Integrative Medicine panel presenters include:

Ping Ho, MA, MPH (Moderator) – Founding Director, UCLArts and Healing; Steering Committee member, UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine; member of the Council of Advisers for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.

Erica Curtis, MFT, ATR-BC – Past President of the Southern California Art Therapy Association; past board member of the American Art Therapy Association; Instructor at Loyola Marymount University Department of Marital and Family Therapy with specialized training in Clinical Art Therapy.  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Board Certified Art Therapist

John Mews, MA, MTA, MFT Registered Intern – Executive Director and Founder: Mewsic Moves; Board Certified Music Therapist, Marriage and Family Therapy Registered Intern; Special Needs Family and Parenting Coach.

Mimi Savage
, PhD Candidate, RDT – Southern California Chapter President of the North American Drama Therapy Association; Registered Drama Therapist; Drama Therapy Fund Professional Research Grant Recipient for 2014; Instructor for UCLArts and Healing SEA Program.

Lora Wilson Mau, MA, BC-DMT – President of the California Chapter of the American Dance Therapy Association; Lecturer at California State University, Long Beach, Department of Dance.  Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist.

Dance/Movement therapy for hospitalized kids

Lori Baudino

Lori Baudino, PsyD, BC-DMT is a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified dance/movement therapist who brought the first dance/movement therapy programs to Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles through funding by The Andréa Rizzo Foundation (for Dréa’s Dream pediatric dance therapy programming).

Click here to view a TED-style talk by Dr. Baudino describing the experiences of hospitalized children and how dance/movement therapy meets their needs (sponsored by the American Dance Therapy Association).

Click here to view a UCLA Health website article featuring Dr. Baudino describing how she works with children in the hospital, how she got connected with Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, and a particularly memorable experience.

Click here to view footage of Dr. Baudino doing dance/movement therapy with children at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA.

Movement and music therapies for autism

Christina Devereux  site

The American Dance Therapy Association is building a Youtube channel that will include TED-type talks about dance/movement therapy with different populations.

The first of the videos was posted in honor of Autism Awareness Month: a 12-minute talk about dance/movement therapy and autism by Christina Devereaux, PhD, LCAT, LMHC, BC-DMT, NCC, who eloquently describes the capacity of dance /movement therapy to produce treatment outcomes in the area of social relationships, and particularly in their formation. Understanding bodily cues and joining in those movements enables a playful dialogue of movement that leads to connection. Then behavior patterns can be channeled towards social engagement. Click here to view the video on dance/movement therapy and autism.


Click here to view a short and fun video demonstration on how rhythm and movement go together by board-certified music therapist, Kat Fulton.


Click here to read the full 2013 review article from Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, entitled: A review of “music and movement” therapies for children with autism: embodied interventions for multisystem development. 

Authors Srinivasan and Bhat from the University of Connecticut summarized their research in the abstract below:

The rising incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) has led to a surge in the number of children needing autism interventions. This paper is a call to clinicians to diversify autism interventions and to promote the use of embodied music-based approaches to facilitate multisystem development. Approximately 12% of all autism interventions and 45% of all alternative treatment strategies in schools involve music-based activities. Musical training impacts various forms of development including communication, social-emotional, and motor development in children with ASDs and other developmental disorders as well as typically developing children. In this review, we will highlight the multisystem impairments of ASDs, explain why music and movement therapies are a powerful clinical tool, as well as describe mechanisms and offer evidence in support of music therapies for children with ASDs. We will support our claims by reviewing results from brain imaging studies reporting on music therapy effects in children with autism. We will also discuss the critical elements and the different types of music therapy approaches commonly used in pediatric neurological populations including autism. We provide strong arguments for the use of music and movement interventions as a multisystem treatment tool for children with ASDs. Finally, we also make recommendations for assessment and treatment of children with ASDs, and provide directions for future research.

The State of the Art and Science in Creative Arts Therapies—with a Focus on Treatment of Trauma

View the panel presentation on “The State of the Art and Science in Creative Arts Therapies—with a Focus on Treatment of Trauma” orchestrated by UCLArts and Healing for the major International Research Conference on Integrative Medicine and Health in 2012:

Click here to view the video.

view video

This panel discussion, which took place at the 2012 International Research Conference on Integrative Medicine and Health, begins with a state of the art review of current research and the goals and issues of ongoing research by moderator, Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH. Five distinguished clinicians and scholars from four creative arts therapy disciplines (art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, and music therapy) then present discipline-specific research focused on the treatment of trauma. Panelists also offer a coordinated presentation highlighting underlying paradigms of the creative arts therapies and emerging trends in evidence-informed practice. Selected applications of creative arts therapies, including those in the context of academic health centers and integrative medicine, are illustrated. 

Panel Moderator: 
Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH
Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard School of Public Health, USA
Founding Director, Foundation for Art and Healing

Marcia L. Rosal, PhD, ATR-BC, HLM
Professor and Director Art Therapy Program, Florida State University, USA

Sherry Goodill, PhD, BC-DMT, NCC, LPC
Chairperson, Department of Creative Arts Therapies, Drexel University, USA

Stephen Snow, PhD, RDT-BCT
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Creative Arts Therapies, Concordia University, Canada

Bryan C. Hunter, PhD, LCAT, MT-BC
Professor and Chair, Dept. of Creative Arts Therapy, Nazareth College


View creativity conference videos from spring 2013

Click on the link below to view footage in 18 labeled segments from our April 7, 2013 conference entitled, “On the Edge of Chaos: Finding Flow and Resilience through Creativity & the Arts”.Image

Doctor dances in operating room right before her own double mastectomy

San Francisco gynecologist Deborah Cohan gets her entire surgical team dancing with her to the music of Beyonce at UCSF Hospital before her double mastectomy, and asks others to submit videos of themselves dancing to Beyonce for her to view during recovery.  Cohan specializes in treatment of pregnant women with HIV.

From the article: “I was more nervous about how the flash mob was going to go than how the surgery was going to go,” she said.

Click here to view the ABC News video and story.