Excellent Dancer? Thank GABA.


Some people can pick up instruments and play them, dance no matter the music, master tennis quickly, learn card tricks in a flash. Is it all because of one brain chemical?

A study released today by researchers at the University Of Oxford claims that GABA (short for gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the compound that affects our ability to have a knack for tackling something new, motor-skills wise.

According to The Body Odd:

“Our research suggests that an important first step in learning that new skill is a decrease in GABA levels in the motor cortex,” explained Dr. Charlotte Stagg, a junior research fellow at Oxford and at John Radcliffe Hospital. Her study was published online in the journal Current Biology.
“It appears that GABA levels in some people are more easily modulated than in others, and that the differences between people (are) related to their ability to learn” new movements, Stagg said.

Body Odd writer Bill Briggs can’t dance, and writes: “All these years, I thought it was because I was white. And straight. And old.” He’s joking, (sorta? maybe?) but it would be very interesting to bust stereotypes by discovering that GABA levels do not change with race or gender. In addition, this kind of research is fun to joke about — but it could be life-changing for those suffering from strokes.

Can’t dance? Brain Chemical Throws Off Your Groove [Body Odd]
The Role of GABA in Human Motor Learning [Current Biology]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin