Virginia Tech researchers study connection between autism and dance

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 11:19 AM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - A team of researchers is studying the connection between dance and autism.

They’re combining dance and neuroscience, in hopes of learning how dance can affect those with autism spectrum disorder.

The team believes dance stimulates the social elements of the brain, and people with autism spectrum disorder may feel more connected to others at both the physical and psychological levels.

They use an electroencephalography, or EEG cap, to help them measure the brain activity of people in motion or dancing.

Researchers are also able to record the brains of two individuals and how they interact.

The data from the EEG cap is sent to a computer system and can show how brain activity changes. Researchers also hypothesize that dance enhances “neural synchrony” in the brain supporting various neural behaviors. In simpler terms, when people dance or engage with others, the two brains become synchronized.

Dr. Julia Basso is the director of the Embodied Brain Lab at Virginia Tech. She says they’re excited about the possibilities of this project.

“These studies are designed with individuals with autism in mind. We’re running focus groups with autistic individuals to see how they like the dance space, the lighting--- all the aspects of the dance program and curriculum. And so, we’re really working together with this population to understand all aspects of the study,” said Dr. Julia Basso, assistant professor and director of the Embodied Brain Lab at Virginia Tech.

The team is looking for people 18 years and older with autism spectrum disorder to continue helping with their project.

You can learn more by contacting the Embodied Brain Lab at or can screen for eligibility at the following link:

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