How mindfulness and dance can stimulate the brain to improve mental health

Activating the somatosensory cortex may help us connect to our bodies, develop our sensitivity, sensuality and capacity to feel pleasure. Photo: Pexels

(Adrianna Mendrek/ The Conversation) — Like a thick velvety headband, the somatosensory cortex arcs across the top of brain from just above one ear to the other.

I fell in love with the brain as an undergraduate student and pursued a career in neuroscience, but for years I had largely ignored this structure, since it appeared to be involved “only” in processing of bodily sensations. In my mind, that meant it was not as fascinating as areas implicated in emotion or higher cognitive function.

However, over the past decade, during my training in mindfulness-based interventions and dance movement therapy, I’ve come to realize that a well-functioning and developed somatosensory cortex may help us experience the world and ourselves more deeply and completely. It may enrich our emotional experience and improve our mental health. (…)

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