Medical Mysteries of Music

Ongoing History Daily: Dance monkey(s)

Here’s some medical news directed at people like me who just can’t dance.

According to a psychologist at the University of Manchester, the ability and the desire to dance may have some kind of biological connection. This guy used monkeys in his research and he found that a part of the inner ear is responsible for maintaining your balance. This thing (called the sacculus) is especially sensitive to loud, rhythmic sounds.

When the sacculus is hit with sounds of 90 dB or more, it triggers nerves in the muscles along the spinal column and those muscles begin to move. Loud music of 110 dB or more is plenty to trigger this dance reflex. And on top of that, the brain finds this kind of stimulation very pleasurable. Thus, he theorizes, people go with this reflex and begin to dance, enhancing the whole process.

The strength of this effect varies from person to person. Ergo, people who can’t dance seem to lack some sort of link in the biological dance reflex. Now I have a medical exemption from dancing.

Yesterday’s post told of the Bush-X saga.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38403 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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