Dance is one of the most exciting new areas of scientific research, perhaps the next wave in cognitive neuroscience. The study of dance – like the related study of music – places us firmly at the interface of art and science. Dance research is one of the most multidisciplinary fields around, integrating movement, music, and social interaction.

McMaster University, located in Hamilton, Ontario, is quickly becoming an international leader in this emerging field. Dance research at McMaster covers the full gamut of dance's multidisciplinarity, including evolution, kinesiology, performance, neuroscience, physiology, cognition, development, and clinical practice.

Dance research at McMaster is taking advantage of a state-of-the-art facility called the LIVELab, which is housed within the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour in connection with the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind. This facility functions as an advanced laboratory for the study of dance and music performance.

Research in this laboratory focuses on both performers and audience members, and includes analytical methods such as motion capture, virtual acoustic environments, electroencephalography, and physiological recordings (heart rate, respiratory rate, and galvanic skin response, among others). The experiments conducted in this laboratory attempt to elucidate the interactions between dancers, musicians, and audience members, including the mechanisms by which dancers coordinate their movements with one another.

Faculty members engaged in dance research at McMaster University cover three major faculties: Science, Humanities, and Health Sciences. Eight primary faculty members comprise the Dance Research Group:

Steven Brown (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour): Neural aspects
Neural control of rhythm, movement and partnering in dance

David Feinberg (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour): Evolutionary aspects
Evolutionary models of cooperation and competition in dance

Vickie Galea (Rehabilitation Science): Clinical aspects
Clinical uses of dance to improve movement and balance in children with coordination disorders

Jim Lyons (Kinesiology): Kinesiological aspects
Kinesiological models of timing and rhythmic actions, including dance

Mike Schutz (School of the Arts): Cognitive aspects
Cognitive models of rhythmic timekeeping and movement, including dance

Laurel Trainor (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour): Developmental aspects
Development of rhythm and dance in children; dance in the school curriculum

Dave Wilson (Kinesiology): Performance aspects
Choreography, training, performance, improvisation, and creativity in dance

Matt Woolhouse (School of the Arts): Social-cognitive aspects
Interpersonal interaction, social identity, empathy, and cooperation in group dancing


For further information about dance research at McMaster University, please contact Steven Brown.

For information regarding events about dance research at McMaster University and elsewhere, please see the Events page.