Latin Dance and Working Memory

We all know that a quick boogie gives us a short-term high and makes us feel good.

However, to get a longer term boost to our cognitive performance we need to dance for longer, much longer.

A recent research study (Aguiñaga et al., 2022) looking at the relationship between Latin dance and working memory suggests we need to keep dancing for several months.

Dancing regularly, 1-2 times a week, for more than 4 months has been shown to improve a range of cognitive functions, such as, Working memory – which underpins your ability to learn new things, remember short lists and sequences of instructions.

Dancing for several months is also associated with an improvement in attention, reaction time, visuo-spatial skills, selective attention and attentional switching.

This is all so important, particularly for older people, because our cognitive abilities can decline as we get older.

So, to protect our cognitive performance we should get in to the happy habit of dancing 1-2 times per week for several months.

But what type of dancing should we do?

It doesn’t matter too much. My advice is to do a form of dance that you enjoy, or which has meaning to you.

Research suggests that people taking part – long-term – in hip hop, ballroom, merengue, samba and salsa experience an improvement in their cognitive function.

So, you know what to do. Stick on some tunes, and groove.

Aguiñaga S, Kaushal N, Balbim GM, Wilson RS, Wilbur JE, Hughes S, Buchner DM, Berbaum M, McAuley E, Vásquez PM, Marques IG, Wang T and Marquez DX (2022) Latin Dance and Working Memory: The Mediating Effects of Physical Activity Among Middle-Aged and Older Latinos. Front. Aging Neurosci. 14:755154. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2022.755154

If you want to learn more about the relationship between dance and cognitive processing, take a look at the courses we offer at

If you want to use dance to help your mental wellbeing you can subscribe to the Move-Assure Dance for Mental Wellbeing Programme, presented by Dame Darcey Bussell and me, Dr Peter Lovatt.