An innovative new psychology module devised to teach students about the human brain and behaviour through dance, movement, gaming and film, has been launched by Abertay University.
Running for the first time this year, the third year module from lecturer and choreographer Dr Corinne Jola takes an entirely new approach to teaching psychology.
Entitled ‘The Brain in action: From Dance to Trance,’ participating students will gain a knowledge of research on aesthetic experience, health and wellbeing through different forms of dance.
They will be taught both in lectures and practical sessions, taking part in physical exercises.
The first session saw Joan Cleville, a Dundee-based choreographer, guide the students through a series of active tasks set to music. Students were taken on a sensory awareness journey, based on a practice that the choreographer used to prepare their body and mind for their artistic work.
The students then watched Joan’s show ‘The North’ at the Dundee REP, discussed the type of practice he uses and how the experience of watching the performance was linked to the practice of creation they physically experienced.
Dr Jola, of the Division of Psychology, said the broad aim of the module is for students to gain knowledge of psychological processes involved in dance practice.
She added: “Through embodied learning, students will have a better understanding of existing research in this area and it will enhance their abilities of personal enquiry and critical reflection.
“Because dance involves the body, brain, sound, social cognition and sensory experience, it is an ideal way of opening up the possibilities of different research methods and bringing research closer to real-life, away from a narrow focus on laboratory-based experiments.
“We need to engage in a more varied type of research in order to better understand human behaviour. Here, it is research with a focus on the brain, using dance as an exemplar.
“The module will also open up students’ minds about what research is and can be, look at which kinds of research tell them what they want to know, and stimulate them to explore ideas that can be used for their honours degree projects.”
In a similar way to the dance sessions, students will also engage in a games session, playing a number of physical computer games, some of which were created by Abertay’s Computer Arts lecturer Lynn Parker in collaboration with Dr Jola.
These interactive games require students to move freely in space rather than sitting in front of a screen.
Dr Jola added: “We will discuss research on how physical games can change human behaviour and how they feel the games tried out could be studied further to gain insight into human brain and behaviour.
“As the module combines artistic and physical interest with basic scientific research, it is attractive to all students, requiring them to engage with their analytical, creative, and practical intellect.”
All courses offered by Abertay’s Division of Psychology are accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
To study Psychology at Abertay visit https://www.abertay.ac.uk/discover/academic-schools/social-and-health-sciences/psychology/