Thu, Nov 14, 2013 - Page 10 News List

Ballerina brain holds secret to balance

Dancers perform during a dress rehearsal at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, Russia on Sept. 20.

Photo: AFP

Years of training cause structural changes in a ballerina’s brain that help her stay balanced in the pirouette, said a report on Sept. 27 that may aid the treatment of chronic dizziness.

Brain scans of professional ballerinas revealed differences from other people in two parts of the brain, one that processes input from the balancing organs in the inner ear, and another responsible for the perception of dizziness.

Most people, after turning around rapidly, feel dizzy for a period thereafter.

This is because of the fluid-filled chambers of the ear’s balance organs, which sense the rotation of the head through tiny hairs that perceive the fluid swishing about. The fluid continues to move for a while after the spin — which creates the perception that one is moving when still — hence the dizziness.

Ballet dancers can perform multiple pirouettes with little or no feeling of dizziness — a feat that has long puzzled researchers.

The pirouette sees a dancer execute one or more full-body turns on the toe or ball of one foot.

“Ballet dancers seem to be able to train themselves not to get dizzy, so we wondered whether we could use the same principles to help our patients,” Barry Seemungal from Imperial College London’s medicine department said in a statement on the study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.











1. dizzy adj.

頭暈目眩的 (tou2 yun1 mu4 xuan4 de5)

例: She was dizzy and close to fainting.


2. rotation n.

旋轉 (xuan2 zhuan3)

例: Rotation of the hips is a key element in classical ballet.


3. puzzle v.

困惑 (kun4 huo4)

例: The students were puzzled by the teacher’s odd explanation.


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