Why Can’t I “Juju on That Beat?”

Going to Pennsylvania State University has made it abundantly clear that everyone here is immersed in the “party culture;” almost every weekend, college students are out drinking all the alcohol they can hold, dancing their nights away, and most likely contracting some strain of STD or virus (but who am I to judge!). And don’t even talk about the football weekends! One walk down College Avenue here in State College makes it a clear deduction that if you are not getting drunk or in its process, you are definitely missing out!

Anyways, knowing that the college we all attend is a party school is a good thing because we all go out and have a good time, while still staying on top of our studies. As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks ago at a Fraternity, I couldn’t help but notice that, excuse my bluntness, some people are horrid dancers. So, this got me to speculating on a couple of questions: What makes some people better dancers than others? Is one’s brain-functioning capacity involved? Do some people simply possess the natural talent?

Null hypothesis: There is no relationship between a person’s brain and his ability to dance “better” (more fluid and smooth) and control his body with a greater degree.

Alternative: Brain activity plays a critical role in how well someone can control his body to perform dance moves.

*I personally believe that the null hypothesis will be rejected.*

What is the dance called “Juju on that beat?”

The above video ^ is one of the recent crazes that teenagers today are talking about; a new dance called “Juju on that beat.” But I consistently find myself wondering what it is that makes some people better than others at performing dance moves, and so thats exactly what I set out to find through research in the scientific community.

The first scientific article that I happened to stumble upon seemed to attribute the lack of dance moves and beat rhythm to something called “beat deafness.” Unlike the majority of the human species, and very similar to other species within the animal kingdom, this affliction seems to effect a number of individuals that often cannot seem to recognize patterns in music, which, consequently, causes horrid dance movements; it simply does not come natural to some people, while others seem to be much more fluent in this physical language. In the very same article, there was research done by McGill University that attempted to find out exactly what causes “beat deafness” and why it only effects certain people. According to their studies, people who are actually beat deaf not only seem to lack normal coordination of the body, but also seem to have rough times recognizing beats and clapping to them accordingly. More specifically, two test beat deaf subjects named Mathieu and Marjorie, can easily create their own beats and clap to them when there is no sound or music, but when tunes begin to play, the disorder kicks into effect; thus, attempts at synchronization are the problem.

Interestingly enough, scientists have concluded on something called an internal oscillator; these are the basic biological functions like heartbeats and talking that operate on the rhythms of the human body. Caroline Palmer, head of this research, suggests that both Mathieu and Marjorie lack these oscillators; essentially, this oscillator theory helps to support the fact that some people are simply not predisposed to adapting to changes in rhythm.

Some people suggest, however, that capabilities to learn new dance moves rely on how well the brain functions. In one article I read, the author explicates research done by Oxford University stating that GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid, located in the brain largbrainely affects one’s ability to learn new moves and master them; this acid located in the human brain seems to function almost like a gate that regulates the transmission of signals between neural cells. In some people, these GABA levels are regulated with more ease than others, putting them at a much higher advantage; however, this does not necessarily conclude that those with less flexible gates will never master dancing!

Photo Credits

Both the studies suggest two opposing reasonings for the same problem: lack of fluidity and coordination when dancing. The first study implies that problems with dancing arise from a disorder known as “beat deafness,” while the second study attributes the same issues to differences in brain acids. Unlike the first study that has experiments both in effect and pending in the future, the second study has no actual experiments to support its claims. However, this does not necessarily mean that because there in no lab that there is no merit in what was concluded. There is definitely a possibility that either studies are correct, or even that both have scientific validity to some degree. With that being stated, my hypothesis that the null would be rejected is true, since the brain seems to correlate with the dancing abilities of certain people.

However, regardless of whether you possess the best dance moves in the world, or simply cannot seem to find the beat to a song, don’t let that stop you from having a great time and enjoying a little physical relief once in a while!

2 thoughts on “Why Can’t I “Juju on That Beat?”

  1. Amanda Voirrey Rust

    This blog caught my attention, because I have always noticed that no matter how matter how hard someone tries to dance well, they may just not be so great at it! This includes myself, and I was never really sure whether to blame it on my lankiness, or just lack of coordination. Perhaps I do lack these internal oscillators. I am curious to see if studies will ever be conducted directly regarding the GABA levels and one’s dance performance after being taught certain choreography. Overall, I enjoy your blog and stand by your hypothesis and conclusion that the null would be rejected.

  2. Julia R Martini

    This is probably one of the best posts I’ve read! Literally said wow after I was done reading it. It is so great how you tied a modern dance to science! I would have never thought to do that. You highlighted the key words, organized it, even added a video! The studies you used related to this topic in a unique way and added validation to your hypothesis. You hit every point you had to and this is a great post. wow.

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