My research is empirical and practice-based and merges Cognitive Neuroscience with the art of dance.
I’m a trained choreographer and psychologist with over 15 years of experience in both fields. As well as an MA in Choreography from Laban Trinity Conservatoire of Music and Dance and a postgraduate degree in Dance Culture from the University of Berne, I hold an MA equivalent licentiate in Psychology and a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience, both from the University of Zurich.
Studying the cognitive and neuronal responses to dancing or watching dance can provide us with extraordinary insights into the human brain and behaviour.
I’ve been publishing my research on spectators' and dancers' brain and behaviour in international peer reviewed journals and book chapters to share my findings and fascination about the effects dance participation has on the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us. I’m interested in how dance can help improve the health and wellbeing of people in general and for those with long term physical and mental health issues.
I use behavioural experiments and qualitative research as well as brain imaging and transcranial magnet stimulation. Where possible, I base my research on ‘embodied practices’ – for more information see my website www.CoCoDanse.com.
Before joining Abertay University, I held Post-Doctoral research positions at the University of Glasgow, University of Surrey, and at INSERM, Paris.
My teaching is research informed and I highly value critical reflection and discussion in applying findings from Psychology to contemporary issues present in the 'real' world.
In 2015 I completed my Certificate for Teaching at Higher Education and followed a CPD in Teaching Dance. Since then, I aim to design modules that allow students to learn on a cognitive and on an embodied level. As part of a funded student research project, we explored the effects of the learning context (i.e., seating arrangements) with the aim to continously advance students' learning experience.
I am teaching in the undergraduate and postgraduate programme of Psychology. This academic year (2017/2018), I am leading the module:
- PSY309: The Brain in Action: From Dance to Trance
This is a new elective module where students will learn about the human brain and behaviour in relation to dance and other creative practices. What is unusual in this module is that students will not only hear and read about theories and engage in reflection and critical discussion on existing reserach, but will also physically engage in different research practices. Embodying different disciplines will deepen students' understanding, provide them with research ideas and notably enrich their experiences of interdisciplinary research. Moreover, with a number of visiting guest lecturers, students will have the opportunity to gain insight into applied practices in neighbouring fields of Psychology which will widen their horizon for possible professional trajectories after studying.
I am also teaching on the modules:
-PSY103: Evidence based thinking
-PSY301: Biological Psychology and Individual Differences
-PSY410: Honours projects. I currently supervise 8 honours projects students in various topics from performance to emotion perception and social interaction.
-PSY510: Introduction Psychological Research Methods (Masters)
-PSY505: Personality and Individual Differences (Masters)
Previously, I have been teaching on the modules of Cognitive Psychology, Applied Psychology and Research Methods, and I led the module Individual Differences.
My office hours for Winter 2017/2018 are by appointment in Psychology on level 5 on Friday's 2-3pm and on Thursday's 4-5pm.
Reason, M., Jola, C., Kay, R., Reynolds, D., Kauppi, JP., Grosbras, MH., Tohka, J., Pollick, F. (2016). Spectators' aesthetic experience of sound and movement in dance performance: a transdisciplinary investigation. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(1), 42-55.
Hieke, S., Palascha, K., Jola, C., Wills, J. W., Raats, M. M. (2016). The pack size effect: influence on consumer perceptions of portion sizes. Appetite, 96, 225-238.
Bachrach, A., Jola, C., Pallier, C. (2016). Neuronal bases of structural coherence in contemporary dance observation. NeuroImage, 124(Pt A), 464-472.
Herbec, A., Kauppi, J-P., Jola, C., Tohka, J., Pollick, F. E. (2015). Differences in fMRI intersubject correlation while viewing unedited and edited videos of dance performance. Cortex, 71, 341–348.
Grabherr, L., Jola, C., Berra, G., Theiler, R., & Mast, F.W. (2015). Motor imagery training improves precision of hand movement in hemiparetic patients. NeuroRehabilitation. 36, 157–166.
Raats, M. M., Hieke, S., Jola, C., Hodgkins, C., Kennedy, J., Wills, J. (2015). Reference amounts utilised in front of package nutrition labelling; impact on product healthfulness evaluations. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69, 619-625.
Jola, C., Pollick, F.E., & Calvo-Merino, B. (2014) “Some like it hot”: spectators who score high on the personality trait openness enjoy the excitement of hearing dancers breathing without music. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8:718.
Noble, K., Glowinski, D., Murphy, H., Jola, C., McAleer, P., Darshane, N., Penfield K., Camurri, A., Pollick, F. E. (2014). Event segmentation and biological motion perception in watching dance. Art & Perception, 2(1-2), 59-74.
Jola, C., Grosbras, M.-H. (2013). In the here and now. Enhanced motor corticospinal excitability in novices when watching live compared to video recorded dance. Cognitive Neuroscience.
Jola, C., McAleer, Ph., Grosbras, M.-H., Love, S.A., Morison, G., Pollick, F.E. (2013). Uni- and multisensory brain areas are synchronised across spectators when watching unedited dance. i-Perception, 4, 265–284.
Jola, C., Ehrenberg, S., Reynolds, D. (2012). The experience of watching dance: phenomenological-neuroscience duets. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 11(1), 17-37.
Jola, C., Abedian-Amiri, A., Kuppuswamy, A., Pollick, F. & Grosbas, M.-H. (2012). Motor simulation without motor expertise: enhanced corticospinal excitability in visually experienced dance spectators. PLoS ONE. 7(3): e33343.
Blaesing, B., Calvo-Merino, B., Cross, E., Jola, C., Honisch, J., Stevens, C. (2012). Neurocognitive control in dance perception and performance. Acta Psychologica, 139(2), 300-308.
Jola, C., Davis, A., Haggard, P. (2011). Proprioceptive integration and body representation: insights into dancers’ expertise. Experimental Brain Research, 213(2-3), 257-265.
Jola, C., Grosbras, M.-H., Pollick, F. E. (2011). Arousal decrease in ‘Sleeping Beauty’: audiences’ neurophysiological correlates to watching a narrative dance performance of 2.5 hrs. Dance Research Electronic. 29.2, 378–403.
Nordin, S. M., Walker, I. J., Baker, J., Garner, J., Hardy, C., Irvine, S., Jola, C., Laws, H., & Blevins, P. (2011). Injury, imagery and self-esteem in dance. Healthy minds in injured bodies? Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 15(2), 76-85.
de Vignemont, F., Majid, A., Jola, C., & Haggard, P. (2009). Segmenting the body into parts: evidence from biases in tactile perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 500-512.
Calvo-Merino, B., Jola, C., Glaser, D. E., & Haggard, P. (2008). Towards a sensorimotor aesthetics of performing art. Consciousness and Cognition, 17, 911-922.
Jola, C., & Mast, F. W. (2005). Mental object rotation and egocentric body transformation: two dissociable processes? Spatial Cognition and Computation, 5, 217-237.
Knauff, M., Strube, G., Jola, C., Rauh, R., & Schlieder, C. (2004). The psychological validity of qualitative spatial reasoning in one dimension. Spatial Cognition and Computation, 4, 167-188.
Jola, C. (expected 2018). Empirical Research in an Embodied Practice: Can the Study of Partnering Touch, Touch on Something New? In M. Sarco Thomas (Ed.), Thinking Touch in Partnering and Contact Improvisation: Artistic, Philosophical, and Scientific Approaches. Cambridge Scholars Press, UK.
Jola, C. (in print). Choreographing science: Synopsis of dance and cognitive neuroscience. In B. Bläsing, M. Puttke, & Th. Schack (Eds.), The neurocognition of dance. Mind, movement and motor skills (2nd Edition). Chapter I. Psychology Press: Hove, UK.
Jola, C., & Calmeiro, L. (2017). The dancing queen: Explanatory mechanisms of the ‘feel-good-effect’ in dance. In S. Lycouris, V. Karkou, and S. Oliver (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook for Dance and Wellbeing. Chapater I, pp. 13-40. Oxford University Press.
Jola, C. (on hold - publishing house economic issues). Scientists - Performers - Audiences. Different modes of meaning making. In P. Philippe-Meden & V. Roche (eds). Neuroscènes (collection L'esprit et la cité). Editions Connaissances et Savoirs.
Lippi, D., Jola, C., Jacono, V.-E., & Sofia, G. (2016). Steps towards the art of placing science in the acting practice. A performance-neuroscience perspective. In Z. Kapoula & M. Vernet (eds). Aesthetics and Neurosciences. Scientific and Artistic Perspectives. CNRS publication, Springer. pp.141-163.
Jola, C. (2016). The magic connection: Dancer-audience interaction. In U. Eberlein (ed). Zwischenleiblichkeit und bewegtes Verstehen - Intercorporeity, Movement and Tacit Knowledge, pp. 269-287. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.
Jola, C., & Reason, M. (2016). Audiences’ Experience of Proximity and Co-Presence in live Dance Performance. In C. Falletti, G. Sofia and V. Jacono (Eds.) Theatre and Cognitive Neuroscience. Edition Performance and Science: Interdisciplinary Dialogues, p. 75-92. London/NY: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.
Christensen, J. F. & Jola, C. (2015). Towards Ecological Validity in the Research on Cognitive and Neural Processes Involved in Dance Appreciation. In M. Nadal, J. P. Huston, L. Agnati, F. Mora, and C. J. Cela-Conde (Eds). Art, Aesthetics, and the Brain. Chapter 12, pp. 223 - 253. Oxford University Press.
Jola, C. (2013). Do you feel the same way too? Gabriele Brandstetter, Gerko Egert, Sabine Zubarik (Eds). Touching and to be touched. Kinesthesia and Empathy in Dance. DeGruyter: Berlin.
Pollick, F. E., Jola, C., Petrini, K., McKay, L. S., McAleer, Ph., Jang, S. H., MacLeod, Chr., & Simmons, D. (2012) Experience and the perception of biological motion. Chapter 9, Part 3: Perception and Indivicual Differences, in K. L., Johnson, & M. Shiffrar (Eds). People Watching. pp 139-158. Oxford University Press.
Jola, C., Pollick, F. E., & Reynolds, D. (2011) Editors of special issue ’Dance and neuroscience: New Partnerships’ in Dance Research Electronic. 29.2
Jola, C. (2010) Research and choreography – merging dance and cognitive neuroscience. In B. Bläsing, M. Puttke, & Th. Schack (Eds.), The neurocognition of dance. Mind, movement and motor skills (pp. 203-234). Psychology Press: Hove, UK.
Jola, C. (2007). Movement intention: dialectic of internal and external movements – Reflections from cognitive neuroscience. In S. de Lahunta (Ed.), Capturing intention (pp. 62-67). Amsterdam: School of Arts.
Jola, C., & Mast, F. W. (2005). Dance images. Mental imagery processes in dance. In J. Birringer & J. Fenger (Vol. Eds.), Dance and cognition (Vol. 15, pp. 211-232). Münster, NRW, G: LIT.
My research findings on the effects of visual expertise on motor simulation when watching dance has attracted much attention in the wider public. Numerious interviews have been published internationally (i.e. The New York Times, Radio Germany) and my research has been featured in a documentary French-Taiwanese co-production (the Taiwanese version is on youtube here).
Through my work as a choreographer, my scientific research also transpires into the artistic world of dance. I enjoy very much interacting with inquiring minds from a variety of backgrounds. For more details on my artistic works see www.CoCoDanse.com.
Scientific presentations and other interviews that are freely accessible online: