Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award





Dr. Jessica Grahn

Second Advisor

Avital Sternin

Third Advisor

Sarah Schwanz


Many older adults may experience cognitive decline with aging, and with a rising aging population it is important to investigate interventions that improve cognitive functions. The purpose of this study was to assess differences in executive functioning between older adult dancers and older adult aerobic exercisers. Given that dance involves the use of executive functions, in addition to engaging in aerobic exercise, older adult dancers were expected to score higher on the executive functioning tasks than the older adult aerobic exercisers. Using the Cambridge Brain Sciences Battery to assess executive functioning, this study sought to compare older adults, 50 years old and above, with 10 or more years of experience in dance or aerobic exercise and a control group with less than or equal to 1 year of experience in these activities. Because no participants were available for the aerobic exercise group, the study simply compared two older adult dancers with six older adults in the control group. A one-way between-groups analysis of variance indicated that the dance group and the control group did not differ significantly on any executive function measures. Specifically, the dance group and the control group did not differ in inhibitory control, planning, or working memory. However, these findings need to be interpreted with caution as the low sample size in both groups resulted in the study to be underpowered. Therefore, it cannot be definitively concluded that dance is not associated with higher cognitive functioning compared to the control group or the aerobic exercise group.