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Memphis Jookin' at the Embodied Brain Lab

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Category: research Video duration: Memphis Jookin' at the Embodied Brain Lab
Renowned dancer Lil Buck and others from “Memphis Jookin’: The Show,” visited the Embodied Brain Lab where Julia Basso and her team were able to record their brain activity and body physiology as they performed a variety of choreographed and improvised material. The artists visited the lab following a performance the previous day at the Moss Arts Center.
Today we're here at the embodied brain lab, Virginia Tech, with artists from a new project called Memphis chicken, the show, the embodied brain lab, we just started in August 2021. And we studied the effects of mind body movement practices including dance on brain function and physiology. We're very excited about how we can use dance in a clinical way to improve the lives of individuals with a variety of different disorders, like autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and depression disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Since the moss Art Center opened its doors in 2013, we've committed a lot of our time and resources to fostering a variety of engagement experiences with the arts. But where we hadn't done much work was in contributing to the research mission at Virginia Tech. So this presented a really perfect opportunity for us because it was a brand new artistic project, a new research lab here at Virginia Tech. And a lot of shared interests, a lot of consonants between what the artists do on a regular basis and what the researchers were curious about. So when we were in conversations with the artists, we were looking for interesting opportunities in addition to the performance. Just so happen to the time that we had heard about the embodied brain lab. So as I learned a little bit more, I spoke with Dr. Julia basso. And as we kind of put our heads together around the ways that the moss arts center might support the embodied brain lab's research. The first idea that came to mind was this particular project that was coming here. So among the variety of ideas that I proposed to the Memphis chicken artists for their consideration for okay, when you're Blacksburg, obviously you're going to do some performances, but we also have these other opportunities. What kind of bubbles up to the surface in terms of your own curiosity. And I was delighted that this idea that seems kinda like a long shot was one. She said, Yes, let's try that. Today we got to record the brains of little block himself and some of his dancers. So in the dance world, he's a celebrity. So it's very, very exciting for me as a neuroscientist to be able to record his brain activity. And for me it was actually the first time I've got to record the brain of a dancer or while they're moving. And the fact that it was little box was kind of like the highlight of my scientific career. Not only were recording brain activity, but we're recording body physiology. We're very interested in what's happening in the brain during these improvise moments where the brain is generating a new movement. And also what happens when the brain is recalling known movement sequences as well as motion capture. So we videoed all the dancers so we can kind of look at how their body and brain activity relate and synchronize not only the body and brain that the individual, but also between two dancers, which is quite new in the scientific world.