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NEA Research Lab

Laboratory for the Scientific Study of Dance (LAB:SYNC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is funded in part by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Research Lab award. The NEA Research Lab program is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts. LAB:SYNC is directed by Principal Investigator Dr. Aston K. McCullough, and is the nation’s first NEA Research Lab to focus on dance behavior in relation to health outcomes among adults.

As an NEA Research Lab, LAB:SYNC is dedicated to one of the NEA’s key priority areas – the arts, health, and social/emotional well-being. In service to this area, LAB:SYNC is focused broadly on the following NEA research questions:

  • What are the social, emotional, physical, and/or physiological health benefits of dance for adults?; and
  • How do these benefits or related outcomes vary by age, socioeconomic characteristics, other demographic and behavioral patterns, and/or by health or disability status?

Specifically, LAB:SYNC is leading new studies to advance these NEA priority areas through (a) the development and evaluation of methods for quantifying dance behavior and (b) by testing associations between dance exposures and health outcomes. Our current project, Measurement of Professional Dance Training Exposures and Health Correlates in 18 to 85-year-old adults (The METRIC Study), aims to calibrate and disseminate computer vision, wearable sensor, and questionnaire-based tools for researchers and dance practitioners to accurately capture and characterize dance behavior in either the laboratory or studio. At the same time, the study intends to take steps toward revealing associations between lifetime dance training exposures and biological age, mental health status, muscle function in addition to other health outcomes.


For news and updates on research at LAB:SYNC – subscribe to gravity

To contact LAB:SYNC – find details here

For more information about the team at LAB:SYNC – read about our group

Check out ongoing research studies LAB:SYNC – participate in research

To learn about other NEA Research Labs – see below


NEA Research Labs image - U.S. locations


o   Arizona State University- NEA Caregiving Research Lab

o   Drexel University- Arts Research on Chronic Stress (ARCS)

o   George Mason University- George Mason University Arts Research Center (MasonARC)

o   Indiana University- Arts, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation Lab (AEI)

o   New York University- Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Performing Arts Lab

o   Rice University- Rice ARCHES Initiative

o   Texas A&M University

o   Texas Tech University

o   University of Arkansas- The University of Arkansas NEA Research Lab

o   University of California at Los Angeles- The NEA Research Lab at UCLA

o   University of California San Diego- Early Academic Readiness and Learning Intervention (EARLI)

o   University of California San Francisco- The Sound and Music Perception Lab at The University of California, San Francisco

o   University of Colorado Denver- Colorado Resiliency Arts Lab (CORAL)

o   University of Florida- Center for Arts In Medicine (EPIArts Lab)

o   University of Iowa- Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI)

o   University of Maryland- Music and Arts Education Data Lab (MADLab)

o   University of Michigan

o   University of Minnesota

o   University of Pennsylvania- The Humanities and Human Flourishing Project

o   University of South Florida

o   University of Texas at San Antonio- Arts Incubation Research Lab (AIR)

o   University of Wisconsin Madison- The University of Wisconsin Community Arts Collaboratory (Arts Collab)

o   University of Wisconsin Milwaukee- Autism Brilliance Lab for Entrepreneurship

o   Vanderbilt University (Northwestern, UChicago)- The Arts, Creativity, Cognition, and Learning

o   Vanderbilt University- Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab, Program for Music, Mind, and Society at Vanderbilt

o   West Chester University of Pennsylvania- Research on Equity via Arts in Childhood (REACH) Lab


The opinions expressed in materials on this website are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views of the National Endowment for the Arts Office of Research & Analysis or the National Endowment for the Arts. The Arts Endowment does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included in these materials and is not responsible for any consequences of its use. This NEA Research Lab is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (Award#: 1879058-38-C-21).